The Great Renovation, changing post-war neighbourhoods - 2004

In the years of reconstruction, the pace of housing construction was dizzying. In all cities, new housing estates were built from the ground up. Architects and urban planners such as Cornelis van Eesteren, Jaap Bakema and Lotte Stam-Beese who at the time stood up for their vocation as 'social regulator'. Between 1945 and 1970, some two million houses were built throughout the country, the dream of every young family.

Review Willem Ellenbroek, Bilgaard, Vrijheidswijk Leeuwarden, Holtenbroek Zwolle, Malburgen Zwolle, Kanaleneiland Utrecht, Nieuw Den Helder, Delftwijk Haarlem, Jeruzalem Amsterdam, The Hague Southwest, Hoogvliet Rotterdam, Pendrecht Rotterdam, Heuvelkwartier Breda, Malberg Maastricht, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Amvest, ERA Bouw, Bijlmer, Cornelis van Eesteren, Jaap Bakema, Lotte Stam-Beese, Nieuwe Bouwen, stadsvernieuwing, De stad der toekomst, de stad, Dudok, Van Tijen, Henk Hofland, Niek de Boer, Van den Broek en Bakema, Van Embden, Hoogvliet, WiMBY, Westelijke Tuinsteden, NAi, Van Schagen, Hans van Heeswijk, KAW, Duinker van der Torre, monumentenstatus, Dolf Broekhuizen, J.M. Stokla, Karelse van der Meer Architecten, CIAM, Team X, Forum, Hengelo Klein Driene, Hengelo Berflo Es, Granpré Molière, ir. P. Verhagen, KuiperCompagnons, Mitros, Portaal, wijkgedachte, Artgineering, Wieger Bruin, Ashok Bhalotra,

The renewal of the post-war housing estates was, at the time of publication of the book, one of the most far-reaching construction tasks in the Netherlands. Between 1990 and 2001, 71,418 homes were demolished nationwide.

But suddenly, at the end of the 20th century, the picture turned. The ideal of the time disappeared. Those who could afford it left for the more luxurious homes in the Vinex districts and were replaced by the underprivileged. The old dream neighbourhoods became the 'pits of the housing market'. The emancipatory ideals of the past faded into the background. The market determines what happens.

In his essay, H.J.A. Hofland argues in favour of a mandatory excursion for every Dutchman to go to those neighbourhoods, to see what happens there. For there is nothing less than "the silent revolution of the enigmatic consensus".

The neighbourhoods that are demolished are often influenced by the neighbourhood idea. In post-war Europe, the concept of district was a widely supported ideal of solidarity and community building; the answer to the disruption of the past war and to the fear of unstructured urban growth from the years before.

The book raises the question of whether the large-scale demolition of post-war residential areas in the Netherlands is not destroying too much of its heritage. Thirteen districts have been extensively documented. In addition, 160 succinctly documented projects are reviewed. It becomes clear that this not only concerns the Bijlmer, Hoogvliet or Den Haag-Zuidwest, but also houses in Harlingen, Lochem and Oss. Not only high-rise buildings and apartment blocks, but also single-family homes. The transformation happens everywhere.

Portico apartment number 47 on the Rembrandt van Rijnstraat in Groningen was festively inaugurated in 1955 by the Minister of Housing and Reconstruction as the 500,000th dwelling. The basement is furnished as a hobby and meeting room or public reading room. The basement has a communal laundry room with play areas 'so that the laundering mother could keep a watchful eye on her offspring'. At the time of the publication of the book, the flat was nominated for demolition.

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