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CONTENTS   4 SITES  

SILO

  TETTERODE   DE LOODS   EDELWEIS   APPENDICES   NOTES   SUB-SITES

BOOK:  DAVID CARR-SMITH  -  IMPROVISED ARCHITECTURE IN AMSTERDAM INDUSTRIAL SQUATS & COLLECTIVES

APPENDICES

 

   APPENDIX 1 - AMSTERDAM SQUATTING: LEGALITY / HISTORY / MORES 
> APPENDIX 2 pt1 - AMSTERDAM CITIZENS' INITIATIVES >

> APPENDIX 2 pt2 - AMSTERDAM PLANNERS' INITIATIVES >
> APPENDIX 3 - THE 'REDEVELOPED' SQUATS >  
> APPENDIX 4 - AMSTERDAM ARCHITECTURE >
   
> APPENDIX 5 - RECIPROCATION OF DISPARATE CONTENTS - BOFILL >

 

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APPENDIX 1
[ Re: BOOK INTRO - part 2 ]

AMSTERDAM SQUATTING - LEGALITY / HISTORY / MORES
Squat info attribution (info 29-01-95):
1. general info, on Nieuwmarkt especially: MARTIN DE BOER
2. general info and "quotes": MARTIN VAN GINKEL of squatting archive 'SPOK'  ["Speculation Investigation Collective" - site in Dutch only]

Dutch law does not protect empty housing - an owner (private or City-Council) can be compelled to rent it to people on the housing list or to squatters - such is one of the conjunctions of scarcity and social values on this crowded patch of sometimes hard-won land. On many levels there is a degree of sharing of resources, sharing living in the city, its use and thus its ownership (that property/privacy centered Britons may well find both reasonable and socially radical).

Since to own an empty house is more reprehensible than takinq posession of one, squatting carries virtually no social stigma, and indeed throughout Amsterdam thousands of people lead invisibly-ordinary lives in rented or mortgaged houses and flats which they or their parents broke into and took posession of, presumably initially by installing the mandatory minimum icon of domestic occupation: a chair+a table+a bed.

There is very little private housing in the City, most squats are in City-Council owned housing or developers' projects (commercial/industrial buildings).

The late 1960's and 70's were the years of most obvious growth and power of squatting as a public and social force. An important catalytic event in the early 70's was the City's preparation for the destruction of much of the old district of Nieuwmarkt for metro-trenching, which involved mass-evictions, which enabled mass-squattinq. Nieuwmarkt initiated a highly politicised active protest - public opinion and squatting joined in opposition to this monstrous scheme. Though the City got its way with the metro, squatting had become more organised, politically consentient and logistically efficient.

In the early stages when efforts had to be outwardly and collectively directed (to defend and negotiate), squats were politically rather than domestically motivated. Establishing a base of activities as complex as a "home" requires time, security and privacy. As external opposition lessened and tenure became relatively predictable people began to invest in the amenities of the site and means of personal life; or if addicted to struggle moved on. At this stage, especially in any large and (by then) famous squat (or squatted district such as Nieuwmarkt), there is always an influx of people who intend to establish homes - who either inherit a squat or squat for themselves.

The policy and technique of almost all the collectively orqanised squats was to negotiate, publicise, inform, sometimes threaten, and move on if unsuccessful, rather than (with a few famous exceptions - eg: Struisvogel ["Ostrich"!]) physically fight for possession ... only a very small minority refused to deal with the City. The social cohesion of this amazingly practical and restrained society is such that most of the squatted housing and many of the big commercial and industrial sites (even some 'militant' squats) are now legalised and rented or owned (egs: Edelweis on KNSM island / Tetterode in the Kinkerbuurt / Frankrijk in Spuistraat). The securing of these places seems to stimulate physical and imaginative work (mainly on the private living-spaces rather than the shared facilities, except in complete City-initiated 'renovations') that defines them as 'collectively-administered egalitarian housing-schemes for the evolution of individualistic 'yuppie' apartments'! (nb: TETTERODE).

Tetterode (squatted 1981) was considered a "school example of the new professional squatting": "squatters were seen as idealists not terrorists"; "squatting was defined in a democratic sense": informing the neighbours and considering their comfort; submitting alternative-housing plans to the City; publicising the squat's aims and treating it as a public-project. The City Council had begun to routinely legalise squats and finance their transformation into social-housing projects of different types to suit various social configurations (ref: TETTERODE- INTRO: Legalisation').

Since the mid 1980s squatting had been politically subdued, though recently a new wave of larqe scale squats have been opened (eg: the Grain-Silo 1989). These tend to "what political squatters call 'vagueness'": involved in personal life and work rather than "the struggle of the movement". The Silo however has begun to emerge as a 'culturally' active centre: an art/performance venue, a focus of architectural projects, and as a presence among the multifarious institutions that have interested themselves in a role within the huge so-called 'Ij-Plan' (a City 'development' project).

A small extension of the right to live in an empty house is the right to build ones own house in an empty building. Empty commercial and industrial buildings are usually in the hands of financial companies or speculators, whose public image is no more sympathetic than a 'slothful and selfish' house owner's. Polite hard working squatters are hardly less desirable neighbours than a security-spooked deralict factory or the intolerable pollution of large-scale demolition and rebuilding.

Thus the commandering of (sometimes vast!) complexes of buildings, initially on principle or to prevent demolition and later for conversion into living-places, became normal and even welcomed by their neiqhbourhood. In the context of public discussion and reassessment of a City housing policy that had notoriously created slab-block suburbs (the Bijlmeer, etc) and ignored the refurbishment of the inner-city housing stock, the City Council was often prepared to negotiate legal settlements and finance. Even in the very pip of the city behind the royal palace it was possible for a very large squat to survive, legalise, and prosper: in the early 80's the 'Handelsblad Gebow' in Paleis Straat (a newspaper building squatted 1978) was reborn as a legal institution (at the cost however of Council 'renovations' that destroyed its improvised interiors).


 ^ Top    > Next Page >

   APPENDIX 1 - AMSTERDAM SQUATTING: LEGALITY / HISTORY / MORES 
> APPENDIX 2 pt1 - AMSTERDAM CITIZENS' INITIATIVES >

> APPENDIX 2 pt2 - AMSTERDAM PLANNERS' INITIATIVES >
> APPENDIX 3 - THE 'REDEVELOPED' SQUATS >  
> APPENDIX 4 - AMSTERDAM ARCHITECTURE > 
 
> APPENDIX 5 - RECIPROCATION OF DISPARATE CONTENTS - BOFILL >


CONTENTS   4 SITES  

SILO

  TETTERODE   DE LOODS   EDELWEIS   APPENDICES   NOTES   SUB-SITES