Taking Back Housing!

On the 16th of October, we co-hosted the international symposium Taking Back Housing! together with the Independent School for the City. During the online symposium, speakers from the Netherlands and abroad talked about the challenges of alternative housing projects such as housing cooperatives. Thanks to all the speakers and the audience, we were able to yet again host a great International New Town Day edition. In order for everyone to learn from these insightful presentations we have opened the live stream to the public. Feel free to watch it again, share it, and start conversations!


During the first block, Michelle Provoost points out the urgencies of the topic, Peter Kuenzli introduces us to the history and the background of housing cooperatives in the Netherlands followed by Maarten van Poelgeest on the necessity to democratize housing. During the second block, multiple examples from the Netherlands are shown: Gerard Roemers presents housing cooperative de Warren in Amsterdam, Arie Lengkeek talks about Het Rotterdams Woongenootschap) and Piet Vollaard presents Stad in de Maak (City in the Making, Rotterdam).


In the third block, successful examples from abroad are presented. Han van de Wetering talks about the Genossenschaften in Zürich and Lina Hurlin tells us about the Mietshauser Syndikat in Germany. Darinka Czischke (TU Delft) gives a critical reflection afterwards. During the final, fourth block, the ambitions and plans of Amsterdam and Rotterdam are discussed. Marije Raap presents Amsterdams Action Plan followed by reactions from architect Marc Koehler and urban planner Jacqueline Tellinga. Annet Akkerma presents the policy of Rotterdam followed by reactions from architect Ninke Happel and architect Laura Weeber. Michelle Provoost ends the symposium by stating her final remarks.


Annet Akkerma
Annet Akkerma was the coordinator of strategy and policy at housing corporation Vestia; since 2016 she is a policy advisor for Housing for the municipality of Rotterdam. Part of her portfolio is the topic of‘ innovative housing and living’.

Arie Lengkeek
Arie Lengkeek works an independent curator and program maker under the name Arie Lengkeek / commongrounds. His motive is to develop new common grounds as training places for the city of tomorrow, integrating cultural values, economic drivers and social fabric. He is one of the initiators of Het Rotterdams Woongenootschap, and wrote the pamphlet ‘Operatie Wooncoöperatie’ to advocate cooperative housing as the third pillar in a just and inclusive urban development.

Darinka Czischke
Dr Darinka Czischke is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology. In 2014 Dr Czischke was awarded the Delft Technology Fellowship to develop her research on Collaborative Housing. She is the founder of the Co-Lab Research group at the TU Delft and co-founder of the working group ‘Collaborative Housing’ at the European Network for Housing Research (ENHR). Previously, she worked as Director of World Habitat (2013, formerly Building and Social Housing Foundation, BSHF); Research Director of the European Social Housing Observatory at CECODHAS Housing Europe; and as Research Associate at the LSE Cities Programme, London School of Economics and Political Science. She has published extensively about social, affordable and collaborative housing in comparative international perspective.

Gerard Roemers
Gerard is a co-founder board member at De Warren, the first housing coöperation in Amsterdam that designs and builds its own real-estate. The project aims to realize 36 apartments: sustainable, and at affordable prices. Outside of this personal project, Gerard works as a sustainability consultant at Metabolic. He’s been educated in spatial planning as well as environmental sciences and industrial ecology. Within Metabolic Gerard combines these disciplines by specializing in circular urban planning and design. Within De Warren Gerards main focus is on realizing a sustainable building design: the design foresees an energy-neutral, using renewable and circular building materials wherever possible, and providing a place to live for urban flora and fauna as well as the human inhabitants of de Warren.

Han van de Wetering
Han van de Wetering is urbanist and architect and founder of the urban design studio “Van de Wetering Atelier für Städtebau” in Zurich. With his office he won many prizes and competitions and is laureate of the Swiss Urbanism Award (“Stadtlandpreis”). He is a leading expert in cooperative housing developments, especially dealing with its contribution to an attractive, open, sustainable city and its integration in new urban planning strategies. He publishes regularly and lectures at various Swiss universities.

Jacqueline Tellinga
Jacqueline Tellinga is a Dutch planner and urbanist who manages experimental urban developments, both large and small scale. Tellinga is a member of the Professional Association of Dutch Urban Designers and Planners (BNSP), the Dutch National Expert Team Housing and of The Right to Build Task Force in the UK. For more than ten years now she worked in various capacities on projects related to the topic of self-building. As the project manager of the Homeruskwartier in Almere with 1.400 individual plots she has been responsible for the largest self-build area in the Netherlands. The latest project being BouwEXPO Tiny Housing.

Laura Weeber
Laura Weeber is an architect and consultant at Urbannerdam. With her architectural firm, she stood at the cradle of the first developments in housing construction, to ever-increasing freedom of choice for buyers and residents in the design of their homes with the project Groeiwwoningen Expo 2001 in Almere. She strives to enrich the city with special residential communities, to provide space for people to create their own living environment, and to make exceptional homes possible for a niche market.

Lina Hurlin
Lina Hurlin is an activist dedicated to the right to the city and good housing for all. Since 2013 she is active in the German "Mietshäuser Syndikat" a solidarity-network of more than 150 non-profit and deprivatized house projects.

Maarten van Poelgeest
Maarten van Poelgeest has been appointed by the municipality of Amsterdam to explore and boost the municipal Housing Cooperative Action Plan to stimulate the growth of Housing Cooperatives in Amsterdam. Previously van Poelgeest (Green Party) was an alderman at the municipality of Amsterdam, responsible for Spatial Planning, Area Development, Climate & Energy. He’s now affiliated with Andersson Elffers Felix (AEF), a consultancy specialised in social issues and governmental support.

Marc Koehler
Marc Koehler is the founder of Marc Koehler Architects (MKA), a multidisciplinary design agency based in Amsterdam, and initiator of Superlofts. He believes that design has the power to help people create the life of their dreams and allows them to both feel at home and belong to something greater. With the bigger picture in mind, he sees the potential of architecture to harness the flow of nature, people, energy, material and capital, thereby revealing new ways to restore the balance between people and planet. An ongoing MKA-project, Superlofts is a customizable co-living and development model based on modular, prefab and Open Building systems.

Marije Raap
Marije Raap works for the City of Amsterdam, department as programme manager Housing. She is a manager for the programme to enlarge possibilities for Housing cooperatives in Amsterdam. From 2011-2019 she was a member of the self-buid team of the city of Amsterdam. Marije studied Architecture and participated in various projects like researching quality and processes of smallscale urban developments ‘The intermediate size’.

Ninke Happel
As part of the architecture firm Happel Cornelisse Verhoeven, Ninke Happel handles a broad portfolio of public buildings, redevelopments, residential buildings and public interiors. Given the firm’s marked interest in the cultural-historical layering of cities and buildings, most of its projects are located at the interface between old and new. The practice’s approach is one of regenerative synthesis, juxtaposing past and present in such a way that they reinforce one another’s special qualities. The team exist of sixteen master degree architects. Ninke Happel, Floris Cornelisse and Paul Verhoeven lead the practice based on their different but complementary backgrounds. Next to the office, they take part in the architectural debate, they teach in various institutions, give lectures and act as guest critics both at home and abroad.

Peter Kuenzli
Peter Kuenzli was director of the municipal housing corporation in Rotterdam, project leader for the reconstruction of Roombeek in Enschede and is presently a member of the board at Rotterdamse Woongenootschap. He has experience of more than three decades in strategic urban planning and project management.

Piet Vollaard
Piet Vollaard (1955) is educated at TU Delft faculty of Architecture (1984) and works as an architect, architecture critic, urban activist and a promotor/project initiator of nature-inclusive design and urban nature. He has been visiting teacher and lecturer at several architecture schools in the Netherlands, notably TU Delft Faculty of Architecture, School of Architecture Amsterdam, Arnhem and Rotterdam (1985 until present). He was co-founder/director of ArchiNed, the architecture website of the Netherlands (1996-2013)’. He is currently active in and co-founder of The Natural City (urban nature projects, 2012- present) and City in the Making (co-housing and alternative, unconventional programming of vacant urban property 2012 - present).