Making The Space


How do you go from ‘what to do with this’ to ‘how did you guys do this?’. In the Coolhaven district of Rotterdam there is an old housing complex that covers three streets, the 1ste IJzerstraat, Coolhavenstraat and Coloniastraat. Locals call it ‘IJzerblok’.

In this area development plan (Ontwikkelopgave Driehoek Coolhaveneiland 2020), published in 2011, it’s stated that IJzerblok was expected to go out of commission by 2020. The complex would then either be demolished or renovated.

By 2021 most of the inhabitants of IJzerblok had already left but the owner of the complex, Woonbron, the municipality and other stakeholders have yet to present a definite development plan. As a temporary solution to prevent squatting or further deterioration of the area Woonbron made the empty houses available to students from the Willem de Kooning Academy to use as art studios.

Problem number 12

As the WdkA students started filling up the IJzerblok complex to use as temporary art studios there was a problem, Coloniastraat number 12. No-one wanted this house and if you had taken a peek inside you would understand why.

Who wants this?

Due to an unnoticed sewage leakage from the neighbors upstairs the floors and walls in the empty house had started to rot and there was black mold everywhere. Thorough cleanup and renovation would be necessary to make this house usable again.

Working together

Whilst the WdkA students filled the other ‘ready-to-use’ houses Coloniastraat 12 remained empty. Trough mutual friends Francisco came in contact with the IJzerblok students and a deal was struck. Francisco could use the unwanted Coloniastraat 12 and in exchange would help with the wider community development goals, collective garden maintenance and help facilitate the WdkA student projects.

The Space is born

Francisco quickly assembled a team with various backgrounds and asked them to donate their time, money and skills. Within 2 months this team managed to completely renovate Coloniastraat 12 into a multifunctional community hub and named it The Space.

Cello performance by Alfian

By now The Space has done numerous projects that vary from creating compost storage and retiling the garden to facilitating student workshops and discussion forums to implementing open source collaboration tools and methods to hosting music and theater performances.

Keep an eye on the events calendar for upcoming events.