Amsterdam, IJburg, Netherlands
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Pioneering example of a bottom-up, community-led housing project

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Hein de Haan/ CASA Architecten
14 February 2015

Vrijburcht is a pioneering example of bottom-up, community-led housing project that is developed by collective private commissioners*. During 2004-2007, a group of people together with the architect, organized themselves as a cooperation and actively participate in realizing their own collective housing.

The cooperation is run by a board chosen by the participants; the board acted as the formal client and supported by professional advisors. Each household is responsible for financing their own house, thus the development risk was reduced.

The project achieved to develop a housing complex, below the market price and providing more flexibility for the individual wishes. This was made possible by the following conditions:

- A critical mass of 40-50 houses;
- Building for the cost price (without a real estate developer);
- Standard building details and facilities;
- Collective parking garage.

In the new residential development in Amsterdam, where it is often criticized by the lack of social coherence and interaction, this case provides not only an interesting social strategy but also financial sustainability.
It is like a small village, or a vibrant community in a newly developed residential quarter of Amsterdam.

* In the Dutch context, collective private commission has a specific term CPO: collectief particulier opdrachtgeverschap

cultural and social context

In the context of Dutch housing market, 'individual housing with private commissioners' was facilitated by the local authorities since the 90s. This has turned housing into a luxury product which is unaffordable for the majority of people. This type of development has, in the last 20 years, produced an environment that is mono-functional and created dull neighborhoods that are unable to sustain the social life.

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materials and building techniques

Initially, the cooperation was seeking for an off-grid, sustainable energy solution. But the lack of public-private partnership has made it unaffordable. Eventually a standard energy installations was chosen for each house; some households have chosen solar energy as an alternative option.

The role of the cost calculator is indispensable to defined the building- and the additional costs - in an early stage. To offer the participants adequate financial security it is necessary to keep the estimated housing prices on the same level for 4 years, from the start of the process until the building contract is signed.

image gallery

image: Willem van Gils | © all rights reserved

image: Willem van Gils | © all rights reserved

image: Willem van Gils | © all rights reserved
Theater space

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view from Vrijburcht

image: Ben ter Mull | © all rights reserved
technical drawings

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