The International Social Housing Festival (ISHF) is a global celebration of the long tradition of decent, affordable housing for all aiming to generate convincing responses to current and future challenges. A series of in total 45 events, exhibitions, meetings, field visits and community activities took place from June 13th to June 21st 2017 in Amsterdam.
A diverse alliance of partners, including Aedes-The Federation of Dutch Social Housing Organizations, the Amsterdam Federation of Housing Corporations, Housing Europe-the European Federation of Public, Cooperative and Social Housing, the Municipality of Amsterdam, and the historical Amsterdam School Museum Het Schip, invited all sorts of housing professionals, policy makers, tenants, academia and the wider public to join on a journey through the history of the social housing sector, with a view to preparing it for a future of surprises and challenges.
Why an ISHF? Why in Amsterdam? The context
The Netherlands is a country with a world-leading (in both the pioneering and exemplary contexts) tradition in social housing, and Amsterdam, as the capital and largest city, has always been at the centre of this. The starting point and symbolic core of the festival will be the Museum Het Schip, which is one of the architectural icons of the ‘Amsterdam School’ architectural movement which celebrated 100 years in 2016.
Part of international expressionist architecture, Het Schip is noted for its tasteful brickwork and intricate masonry details, both inside and out, reflecting the revolutionary vision of a universally liveable and socially inclusive Amsterdam. The 20th-Century Dutch vision of social housing, exemplified by Het Schip, was ground-breaking in that it provided workers and low income groups with housing that did not just provide them with all their necessities but was also aesthetically pleasing- a home to truly be proud of. Within the festival, Museum Het Schip is the point of entry for a journey that will lead organisers and participants well beyond the Dutch and the European borders.
In 1901, the Dutch parliament passed the Housing Act. This allowed a variety of collectives to organize housing projects. Across the Netherlands many social housing corporations were established, tasked with delivering an enormous amount of quality yet affordable dwellings. While the system and organizations have evolved since then, the driving force remains the same: providing people with low incomes with good and affordable housing in liveable communities. However, the history of Dutch social housing is not only of progress from the top down, with input from and collaboration with tenants a driving force behind many projects.
Recently, housing policy in most European countries has been increasingly trusted to market forces. There are questions to be answered on how long-sighted this is, given the resurgent challenges of rapid urbanization, changing lifestyles, globalization, migration and climate change, all these re-invigorating the case for universally accessible housing to safeguard our populations’ social well-being. Actors at all scales need to collaborate on proactive and inventive policies to tackle these challenges head-on and provide adequate and affordable housing for all. This is where the ISHF comes in.
The ISHF was conceived by a group of international participants at Summer School ‘Thinking City, the dynamics of making Amsterdam’. The five ‘founding partners’ of AFWC, Aedes, Museum Het Schip and Housing Europe adopted the initiative and are co-organizing the festival. The festival is being organised by a dedicated project team led by festival director Pepijn Bakker.