Stad in de Maak - Rotterdam

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= "an association set up to take on the redevelopment of vacant properties in Central Rotterdam ... by reaching permanence in affordable housing and working spaces through collective ownership and management".



Levente Polyak:

"Stad in de Maak is an association set up to take on the redevelopment of vacant properties in Central Rotterdam, together with the local community. The association renovated six buildings, investing upfront the amount of loss the buildings were projected to generate for their owner, a housing corporation, in the coming 10 years. Stad in de Maak works on going beyond temporary vacancy management, by reaching permanence in affordable housing and working spaces through collective ownership and management." (


Interview of Marc Neelen:

* How do the buildings function economically?

"First of all, we try to make each building a self-sustaining node (in economic, social and environmental terms) within a network. This is done to foster a more robust network, in which difficulties (or even the ‘collapse’ of one node) do not pose a threat to the viability of the overall network of buildings. In economic terms, this means that each building should generate enough resources to cover its own costs. In social terms, each building should take care of its own governance and use. In environmental terms, it should aim to become resource flow neutral (energy, water, etc.). We aim to create a common finance pool for the maintenance and expansion of this platform. All the inhabitants and users of the buildings, through payment for the right of usage, generate a (modest) flow of finance that contributes to this common finance pool. From this, the activities to sustain the platform (a baseline income for those responsible) are being financed. Given enough nodes in the network (scale), a revolving investment fund to expand the network could be created.

From the very beginning on, we have maintained a minimalist (or no-nonsense) approach to investments. If affordability is at the core, invest what is minimally necessary. For instance, by putting functional, rather than aesthetic concerns at the core. By re-using, upcycling, or working with donated materials. By improvising if the use span of a building is limited, as long as safety is not compromised. And by being prepared to lower the comfort threshold in exchange for lower existential pressures (usage fee). While working on the first buildings, we discovered that it would be important to replace monetary flows with non-monetary alternatives, where possible. As both the inhabitants and users of buildings and the platform itself face a lack of mainstream money, part of the financial pressure can be diverted by conducting transactions in other ‘currencies’: worktime or materials, for instance.

  • How do the activities taking place in the buildings impact the neighbourhood?

We try to bring community activity, but also production back into the buildings, into the streets, and into the neighbourhood. Some things are being tested right now, like a workshop. There is a community brewery starting up, a micro-cinema, a launderette, even some production of detergent … In the coming months there we will have a number of trials to see how we can create a neighbourhood economy. It is crucial to keep space open for such uses and experiments. Each building therefore, has a commons (“meent” in Dutch), accessible for social or productive undertakings. We decided to keep financial pressures away from these common spaces, and cover the costs to keep them open through a contribution from all the users.

We said straight from the beginning that City in the Making – with its current temporary use of buildings – is a sort of training condition for what is yet to come. For us, the next step is to go beyond this temporary exploitation of vacant properties. Now we can do this because there has been an economic crisis but this is not sustainable in the future. Our ambition is to take the properties out of the market, to make them available for affordable housing and work, and to bring them into collective ownership and use." (