Delft: Under a Bridge, Rotterdamseweg 364 squatted

So then…
Under a Bridge

The building under the bridge, here at the Rotterdamseweg, has been vacant since 2017. During this period we have never seen any activity happening in the enormous warehouse. Unlike the typical trolls that usually settle under bridges, we are a set of neat students and former students looking for a place to make for ourselves. Over the past few years we have developed the idea of reopening this place to Delft and giving it a purpose again.

The hall under the bridge is not privately owned, but by the province of Zuid-Holland (and therefore a bit by us all). It is meant to be left vacant and finally for demolition. We are open to conversations and will accommodate proper plans for the future. Until that time we’ll take this opportunity to create a lively place for ourselves to reside and for anyone who wishes to join.

Already over a longer period, the situation about housing has been a hot topic. Instead of focussing on an “anti”-tone, the opposing, we want to propagate a narrative that is based around sound that is “in favour of”. Under the slogan “Niet lullen maar poetsen!” [meaning something like: “Don’t blab on, just mop!”], we aim to contribute and assist in finding a solution to the problems as explained below. In a cheerful and constructive manner, we organize this new space in Delft where there is room to live, experiment, meet up and organize. We offer Delft the opportunity to expand her repertoire with the 1500m² under the bridge. In the manner of e.g. cooking or dwelling, lectures or music. Initiative and enthusiasm are welcome Under the Bridge, to appropriate the space and make it a place for us all!

It goes without saying that we are aware of the responsibility that comes with the appropriation of this space Under the Bridge. We’ll do this with care for the building and the utmost caution concerning safety. Next to this, we’ll make space when maintenance to the bridge is needed.

As for today, most people will be well informed about the defective state of the housing market. A decade-long run-up was needed to arrive at the current overheated market [in political-, social- and economic framework]. Just recently the headlines informed us that the single starter can afford only 3.4 percent of the houses on the Dutch market. Also within the rental segment of the market, the demand rises without an adequate response of the supply, resulting in excessive increases in rent. Making dwelling unaffordable for some, as we have seen homelessness in the Netherlands double over the years 2009-2020. As it becomes more and more expensive to have a roof over your head it also becomes increasingly difficult to find a fitting one.

The same goes for Delft, where the average price for a house was 395,498 euros in 2021, a staggering increase of 16.3 per cent compared to the year prior. Yet, for the first time in 9 years, we saw the prices drop at the beginning of 2023. Partly due to policy changes [structural], partly coming forth out of geopolitical developments, specifically the inflation and confidence that this resulted in [incidental].

These structural interventions are especially of interest for facilitating a more open housing market in the long term, a market where qualitative dwellings are not unaffordable and are within anyone’s reach. One of the areas where a part of the solution might lie is in the current vacancies in the Netherlands. The Centraal Bureau voor de Statestiek reported a slow decline in the number of vacant buildings in the year 2021, yet on the first of January 2022 it still counted 2.6 percent of the total objects of residence in the Netherlands. Converted, that is a generous 219,000 objects, not only consisting of houses but also office buildings and shops, making it possible to house an even larger number of residents. Of course, vacancy is possible, though it is the case that 40 percent of these buildings have been vacant the year before as well. This long-term vacancy is of course a shame that should not be accepted when there is a nationwide shortage of proper housing.

It is not a rare story within our circles that international students get financially drained from their living situation. While we see badly maintained student housing more often, international students often pay significantly more for less security in their living situation. The TU Delft is very committed to attracting more and more international students while they offer none to little help with facilitating affordable- and desirable housing. Next to this a fair share of the student houses [in Delft] already inform in advance that only “Dutch-speaking” or “Dutch” have a chance to get the room. For this reason, it is worthwhile [and of course fun] to create a healthy mix within our own communal residence.

We are still looking for fun initiatives and enthusiastic people to come and help make our place even better, to utilize it to its full potential which has not yet happened. People who want to set out on this adventure, experiment, participate, build or just want to swing by for a coffee are more than welcome to. We’ll take this opportunity to invite you all!

With kind regards from Under a Bridge
Don’t hesitate to contact us on Ondereenbrug [at] gmail [dot] com or swing by at the Rotterdamseweg 364.

Delft, 25 May 2023

Onder een Brug
Rotterdamseweg 364 ABC, 2629 HG Delft
ondereenbrug [at] gmail [dot] com

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