What is often forgotten in models of solutions to the housing crisis is that not everyone needs a luxury apartment

What is often forgotten in models of solutions to the housing crisis is that not everyone needs a luxury apartment
Doherty Smithweisen

A newcomer to my top 10 most annoying people list: project developer Sjoerd uit Battle of Havenstraat. He rubs his hands and looks at the location of Havenstraat in the AT5 documentary series: a former railway yard in the south of Amsterdam, now a cluster of warehouses containing studios and workshops.

One of the last edges of the city, says Siward. “But you can’t keep all those halls,” he knows. Living space is needed, and towers contain many apartments. Well, says Siward: “You can keep one or two halls, fix them up, put some crazy stuff in them. Everyone loves that, even the people who will be living here soon.”

About the author
Doherty Smithweisen is a philosopher and journalist. to De Volkskrant She writes articles and reports and works as a television critic once every five weeks.

People like Sheward have often tried to keep the spirit of the aristocratic neighborhood alive through “some crazy stuff.” In practice, this works in such a way that any form of authenticity gives way to the idea of ​​VVV character. The project developers seem to sincerely believe that you can maintain something like authenticity by dedicating the wall of a new residential tower to a graffiti artist.

But the soul of a neighborhood can’t be bought in the form of Street Art Frankey’s artwork. This ethos is shaped by people who build their lives in a place without interference from planners and housing strategists. Because of the feeling of solidarity it creates. A feeling that is usually barely noticeable in residential towers that rise over former breeding areas and random strongholds: Ready made Living concepts in which the creative community gives way to a framed and isolated life, all in the same vein as Hay’s catalogue.

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This election is about Social Security. It is a somewhat empty term, and perhaps so popular precisely because of its meaninglessness: every party can use it to add urgency to its own programme. Timmermans wants to increase the minimum wage, and Yeselgoz believes it is important for the common man to be able to refuel without stress. Omtzgut talks about affordable food, and Wilders about eliminating the discount.

I can imagine that for Siward, the security of existence meant something like: being able to live comfortably in a really nice neighborhood.

The only thing that is certain about the existence of the people of Havenstraat is that nothing is certain. For decades they have been hearing from project developers that they will soon have to vacate the field. Security of their existence: the shared intention to never leave.

Security of living can mean an apartment with a garage underneath. Underfloor heating, induction hob and interactive buzzer. For others, it means: the ability to keep tinkering in the warehouse you’ve been visiting for thirty years. Of course, Seward has a point about his tower blocks: We all have to live somewhere. But what is often forgotten in models of solutions to the housing crisis is that not everyone needs a luxury apartment with a Quooker in the kitchen. Some people do live, but not according to a specific model.

For some, security of existence means the ability to continue to develop. For others it means: allowing you to stay where you are.

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