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On June 16 2017, the Jaap Bakema Study Centre convened a symposium on the pressing issue of affordable housing, its architecture and planning. The symposium was part of the International Social Housing Festival 2017 and brought together a range of international scholars and designers: Kenny Cupers, Anne Kockelkorn, Jörg Stollmann, René Boer, Mirjana Milanovic, and Dick van Gameren. 

‘A Right to the City, a Right to Housing’ framed housing design as a spatial-political question related to the ones of inclusiveness and diversity. It aimed to combine reflective and projective views with socially conscious and activist outlooks. Kenny Cupers (University of Basel presented the case of early post-war housing in France and how it gave rise to the call for a right to the city. Anne Kockelkorn (ETH Zurich) discussed the Parisian grands ensembles of Ricardo Bofill to show the development of notions of ‘centrality’, housing and planning before and after the neoliberal reforms of 1977. Jörg Stollmann (TU Berlin) talked about the re-empowerment of local communities in post-war housing in Berlin, contrasting Kreuzberg and Gropiusstadt examples. René Boer (Failed Architecture) looked into the relation of squatting, citizens protests and social housing policies in Amsterdam from the 1970s until today. Mirjana Milanovic (Ruimte en Duurzaamheid, R&D) reflected on the place of social housing in current planning policies in Amsterdam and Dick van Gameren (TU Delft/Mecanoo) talked about the planning and design of Thamesmead, the Brutalist housing estate in south-east London, and Mecanoo’s work for its future restructuring.

Read the report of the event by Fenna Bastiaansen, correspondent of the ISHF organization.

A follow-up publication on the themes explored in the event is under preparation.


The conference was part of the programme of the International Social Housing Festival 2017. Set mostly in Amsterdam, the festival was a global celebration of the long tradition of decent, affordable housing for all aiming to generate convincing responses to current and future challenges. It consisted of a series of events, exhibitions, meetings, field visits, community activities and much more from June 13th to June 21st 2017.

Architecture of Appropiation

The symposium was also connected to the research project and exhibition Architecture of Appropriationcurrently on show at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, which investigates squatting as an architectural practice in order to re-examine notions of vacancy and property and propose alternative urban and domestic arrangements to the dominant, market-oriented housing policies. During the Social Housing Festival Museum Het Schip hosts the exhibition Dromen over wonen [dreaming about living, ed.] which is on show from 13 June until 1 September 2017. The exhibition shows a number of key projects from the past and tells the story of contemporary residents through the eyes of photographer David Zijlstra. It aims to serve as a point of departure for the search for solutions for a number of social issues in the form of social housing. The researchers behind Architecture of Appropriation made an important contribution to this presentation by making available material about the case study Vluchtmaat.

13:30 – 16:30

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam