W1555 is a housing association in Rotterdam. Our residents consist of people with varying backgrounds, qualities, and interests, yet as a collective we share the same vision on how we want to live together, based on our social values and on existing concepts of affordable living, diversity, tolerance, ecological awareness and access to education and culture.
We believe that we have the power to transform our immediate surroundings into a pleasant, safe and productive living/working environment, despite social and economic challenges. Where people live together, work and learn, share their experiences, and where their children can grow up safely. We believe everyone contributes in their own way to maintaining our friendly and comfortable environment, of which the doors are always open to those who want to participate.
It is 2001 on Wolphaertstraat, houses are boarded up and empty. This is a street that the average Rotterdammer prefers not to visit. A number of people, mostly young artists, move into some of these vacant homes, a place where they felt they could work and live freely. They became familiar with the neighbourhood and befriended active local residents. Slowly the idea emerged to collectively manage and maintain the houses in the Wolphaertstraat.
In 2003, discussions were held to determine the future of the 43 homes on the Wolphaertstraat, which were marked for demolition. At the time, these houses were owned by the Nieuwe Unie (dNU)—currently Woonstad Rotterdam.
Foundation NAC (New Ateliers Charlois) was established by the end of 2004 as an advisory partner for dNU/Woonstad and the borough of Charlois, as well as future manager of the properties. It took a lot of patience and effort, but finally NAC came to a sustainable agreement with dNU / Woonstad. The agreement involved a renovation plan as well as a management plan for a period of 10 years.
This prevented the demolition of the houses. Each party involved took responsibility for a part of the agreement. Between 2004 and 2017, NAC grew into a foundation that managed, at its peak, around 100 homes, both for Woonstad and Vestia. They established an art and culture fund accessible to its residents in Oud-Charlois, enabling those who lived there to make and show work, and to live as artists in a supported environment.
In 2015, new plans for a sustainable future for the Wolphaertstraat began. Discussions centred around self governance, and it was decided that the residents group took over from NAC. The residents established a core group to manage this, and started to ask the question: what kind of future do we see for Wolphaertstraat?
In 2017, association W1555 presented their business plan to Woonstad Rotterdam. The association had the ambition to acquire the property of Woonstad in the form of a housing cooperative. However, the business plan showed that foundation repair, renovation and acquisition costs were too high. It was agreed that the properties would be renovated, however Woonstad would remain the owner and hold responsibility for the upkeep and sustainability of the houses, while residents’ association W1555 would take over management of the properties and act as an intermediary landlord, leasing the spaces to the residents or users.
In consultation with Woonstad, the architectural firm Superuse Studios, and Van der Ree & Vermeulen bureau, a renovation plan was developed which received the approval of the residents/members of association W 1555. The plan includes the realization of 46 social housing units as well as communal and social spaces. BIK Bouw was selected as the contractor and the plan is being prepared for implementation. The association participates in the operational construction team.
After the renovation
After the renovation is finished, we will overtake the management of the complex. The association rents the complex in its entirety from Woonstad and rents the apartments to its members. The association also assumes responsibility for the operation of the communal and social facilities. In our management plan we show how we plan to do this and demonstrate the feasibility of self-management.