What are the biggest challenges of the city and how can Social Housing help tackling problems that emerge? As social housing was always a ‘problem solver’ for societal issues, we question ourselves what rol social housing should play nowadays, with new issues emerging and new challenges to meet.

At ISHF’s opening event we explore the main challenges to Social Housing. We start off with an interactive morning session with key notes by Toronto based journalist Doug Saunders, author of the acclaimed book ‘Arrival City’, Maarten van Ham, professor of urban renewal and housing at Delft University of Technology and leader of the influential European research project ‘Segregation Europe‘ and Alfredo Brillembourg of Urban Think Tank, a firm renown of its slum upgrading projects in Caracas and Cape Town.

After a lunch we will disperse over the Spaardammerbuurt neighbourhood and join smaller workshop sessions. In these sessions visitors can get a glimpse of the festival days to follow, as the workshops are led by the organizers of ISHF events. As the workshops take place in the community center, a local theater, the library and the local church center, people get the chance to enjoy the beautiful early 20th century architecture of the neighbourhood and to mix with local residents.

Finally we all gather at the Het Schip Museum, which is located in a former school building in the world-famous ‘Het Schip’ residential block. The Amsterdam Alderman responsible for Building and Housing Planning and Community Development, Laurens Ivens, is going  to formally open the Festival. Finally we will raise our glasses to the festival and the future of social housing.

Keynote speakers

Doug Saunders is a Canadian-British author and journalist. He is the author of the books Arrival City: The Final Migration and Our Next World (2011) and The Myth of the Muslim Tide (2012) and is the international-affairs columnist for The Globe and Mail. He served as the paper’s London-based European bureau chief for a decade, after having run the paper’s Los Angeles bureau, and has written extensively from East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East and North Africa. He writes a weekly column devoted to the larger themes and intellectual concepts behind international news, and has won the National Newspaper Award, Canada’s counterpart to the Pulitzer Prize, on five occasions.

Maarten van Ham is Professor of Urban Renewal and Housing at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at Delft University of Technology, and Professor of Geography at the University of St Andrews. Van Ham studied economic geography at Utrecht University, where he obtained his PhD with honours in 2002. Van Ham has published over 60 academic papers and 6 edited books.  Among them the book segregation europe. He is a highly cited academic with research projects in the UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Lithuania, Estonia, Spain, and China. Maarten has expertise in the fields of urban poverty and inequality, segregation, residential mobility and migration; neighbourhood effects; urban and neighbourhood change; housing market behaviour and housing choice; geography of labour markets; spatial mismatch of workers and employment opportunities.

Alfredo Brillembourg was born in New York and received his Master of Science in Architectural Design in 1986 from Columbia University. In 1998 he and Hubert Klumpner founded Urban-Think Tank (U-TT) in Caracas, Venezuela. This is an interdisciplinary design practice dedicated to projects that focus on social architecture and informal development.

Both Brillembourg and Klumper hold the  the chair for Architecture and Urban Design at the Swiss Institute of Technology (Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule, ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland. Here they research, make and communicate strategies to improve cities around the world.

Alfredo Brillembourg’s keynote was made possible thanks to the support by developer Amvest.

Laurens Ivens is the Amsterdam Alderperson responsible for Building and Housing Planning and Community Development. Ivens was born in Doetichem and studied Political Science and Economics at the University of Amsterdam. From 2006 to 2010, he was member of the regional council for the City Region of Amsterdam. After the municipal elections in 2014.





Participants can choose to take part in a variety of workshops. Here is an overview.

Workshops  on migration to cities:

Amsterdam Arrivals / Bijlmerbajes case, studio LA

Amsterdam Arrivals / A new urban lobby, .fabric / bureau LADA

Amsterdam Arrivals / Mind the gap, Must Urbanism / KAW architecten

Workshops on ‘Segregation’ 

The city is ours, Amsterdam Westerpark tenant union

Social Housing and Segregation?, ISHF team / Sophie Rousseau

Workshops on ‘Diverification of tenant’s needs’

Amsterdam Age Friendly, iniatiefgroep ‘levensloopbestendig wonen’

Moving to work, Josh Crites

Housing Laboratory, Sputnik Architects

Tackling domestic abuse, by Kadera


9:30 Welcome

9:45 Challenge #1 Migration to cities

Introduction – Keynote Doug Saunders – Workshop pitches

10:35 Challenge #2 Segregation

Introduction – Keynote Maarten van Ham – Workshop pitches


11:35 Challenge #3 Diversification

Introduction – Keynote Alfredo Brillembourg – Workshop pitches

12:30 Lunch break

13:30 Spaarndammerbuurt tour, to workshop locations

14:00 Workshops in Spaarndammerbuurt area

15:30 Walk from workshop location to Het Schip Museum

16:00 Short summary of the day and festival opening by Amsterdam Alderman Laurens Ivens

16:30 Drinks


This event is being organized by the ISHF team, led by Pepijn Bakker


Date, time: Tuesday 13 June, 9:30-16:30 hrs

Location: WesterUnie, Klönneplein 4-6, Amsterdam

Fee: €100 excl. VAT.

(If you or your organization cannot afford the entrance fee, but you really need to attend this event, please email us. We have discount fares and we’ll see what we can do for you.)

Contact organizer: ISHF team mail@socialhousingfestival.com

Language: English

Alfredo Brillembourg’s keynote was made possible thanks to the support by developer Amvest.


Original text