City in the Making (Stad in de Maak) is an association set up to take on the redevelopment of vacant properties in Rotterdam - most of them “toxic" remainders of the 2008/2009 financial crisis. Since 2014, it has opened eight previously boarded-up or vacant buildings, all of them in Rotterdam Noord. The property owner (housing corporation Havensteder) has transferred the managing of these buildings to City in the Making for a period of three to ten years. Largely free of charge, but with taking on all responsibilities – also the financial ones.
The start of this initiative has been triggered by three conditions: the dramatic vacancy that has occurred among the Rotterdam based housing corporations (developing and managing social housing) following the start of the 2008 financial crisis, the diminishing of the subsidised housing stock, and finally the desire to again give a place to urban production and economy in street, neighbourhood and city. City in the Making finds inspiration in the spirit of the historic housing cooperatives, but equally draws on the emergence of open source maker communities and local circular (micro-)economies.
For each added building, City in the Making has been searching for a group of hands-on inhabitants and users, with whom to identify and implement the required interventions on the premises. An essential aspect of each of these buildings is the combination of living and working. The upper floors are made suitable for living and/or working, while the ground floors are set up as a common resource. A flow of finance from rent of the upper floors is channelled to enable low-cost access to the ground floor facilities. These workshops and multi-use spaces create the link between the residents and users of the various buildings and the neighbourhood.
Three years on, City in the Making sees the current, temporary "vacancy management” of the buildings at hand as a “training condition” for what is yet to come. It aims to achieve long-term affordable housing and working spaces in collective ownership and governance, and therefore stepping beyond the temporary exploitation of the vacant properties that have been brought to its disposal as a consequence of the crisis.
Principles that are aimed at are: no speculation with living and working spaces, low-threshold affordability, living space is part of a wider “infrastructure”, partial independence from large economical systems, a collective way of organizing with enough freedom for individual needs. And finally, communities that not only collectively manage building(s), but equally generate their income in these buildings and among their inhabitants.
City in the Making is a common and commoned endeavor.