Affordable Housing now, better communities tomorrow

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 events, exhibitions, meetings, field visits, community activities and much more from June 13th to June 21st 2017 in Amsterdam will make up the first International Social Housing Festival.


What are we talking about?

A diverse alliance of partners, including Aedes-The Federation of Dutch Social Housing Organizations, the Amsterdam Federation of Housing CorporationsHousing Europe-the European Federation of Public, Cooperative and Social Housing, the Municipality of Amsterdam, and the historical Amsterdam School Museum Het Schip, are inviting all sorts of housing professionals, policy makers, tenants, academia and the wider public to join us 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 now? 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.


Organisational structure

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.

Founding partners

The Aedes association of housing corporations represents the interests of 346 member organisations from the Netherlands. Aedes members collectively manage 2.4 million
homes, 32 per cent of the total housing stock. As a network, knowledge center and think tank, Aedes provides a platform for its
members to meet, share ideas and develop common objectives.

  Involved on behalf of Aedes: Sébastien Garnier and Rob Ravestein.



The AFWC (the Amsterdam Federation of Housing Corporations) is an umbrella organisation representing all member housing associations in Amsterdam. The federation wants to contribute to good and affordable housing, concentrating on those with low incomes. Together with sister organisations, housing sector partners, and community groups, the Federation is also working on improving quality of life in neighborhoods and on provisions for housing and care.

Involved on behalf of AFWC: Egbert de Vries (director).



Housing Europe is the European Federation of public, cooperative & social housing organisations. Since 1988 it has been a continental umbrella for a network of 43 national & regional federations comprising over 40,000 housing providers in total, from 23 countries. Together they manage over 26 million homes, about 11% of existing dwellings in Europe.

 Involved on behalf of Housing Europe are Sorcha Edwards (secretary general) and Michalis Goudis (communications director)



The Municipality of Amsterdam’s department of housing aims to, among other things, provide a platform to discuss, and facilitate progress, on improving life in Amsterdam. The department organizes meetings on urban renewal and maintenance. It maintains networks within and outside the municipality, including a lobbying group in The Hague.

Involved on behalf of the Municipality of Amsterdam: Elly van Sluijs (coordinator social housing)


The Golf Foundation addresses social housing, architecture and design in a broad sense. Amsterdam School-style architecture and design are the main topics of the museum, as it is located in the renowned ‘Het Schip’ residential project designed by Michel de Klerk.

 Involved on behalf of De Golf foundation are Ton Heydra  and Niko Koers.



ISHF team

The ISHF team is responsible for the overall coordination and communication of the festival and its events. Within the framework of the festival, participating organizations are free to organize their own event on the future, and present, of social housing.

The team is led by Pepijn Bakker (festival director) and consists of Marieke Brik (communications advisor), Fenna Bastiaansen, Alix GoldsteinCrispin Pownall, Doortje Janssen and Roos van Strien.


ISHF advisory group

Evert Bartlema is director of cooperative housing association ‘De samenwerking’, member of the supervisory board of Vestia.



Tess Broekmans is urban planner and owner of Urhahn Urban Design & Strategy.


Han Michel was director of Principaal, the development company of housing corporation ‘De Key’.


Arnold Reijndorp holds the Han Lammers Chair of ‘Social-economic and spatial development of new urban areas’ at the Department of Geography, Planning and International Development at the University of Amsterdam.


Jacob van Rijs is architect, urban planner and partner / co-founder of the internationally acclaimed architectural firm MVRDV, known for Villa VPRO, the Expo pavilion in 2000 and recently the Market Hall in Rotterdam.


Guido Wallagh is a partner-consultant at Inbo, associate professor of urban planning at the University of Utrecht and core team member City-Forum, a think tank that advises Amsterdam municipality on spatial issues.


ISHF partner organizations

The ISHF is being co-organized by about 30 partner organizations (see below for just a few!), and each is involved in one or more events or expo items.

Interested parties who would like to contribute to the discussion on the future of social housing and share their point of view are welcome to join the festival either by organizing an event, by contributing to the main exhibition, or in any other form, such as facilitating visits to projects, writing articles, or sponsoring. We are open to all ideas and would like to give the floor to a broad variety of actors and opinions.




























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