MSc Thesis UvA - The new neighbours at Startblok: A study of collaborative planning and the role of communities in the development of temporary housing for refugees in Amsterdam

By Natalie Minetta Gardner

Cities offer great opportunities for refugees. But cities are also facing challenges to keep up with balancing the needs of their refugees with the needs of their citizens. In the past two years, the Netherlands has received ‘record high’ numbers of asylum requests. For those that acquire refugee status, accessing accommodation is the next step towards establishing a life in the Netherlands. But financial and socio-cultural stigmatisation make initial access to the housing market difficult. In Amsterdam, this is exasperated by an additional factor; a shortage of affordable housing. In response, an emergence of purpose-built temporary housing on the margins of neighbourhoods has appeared to accommodate the new arrivals. The urban planning field recognises the role of collaborative, community involvement in facilitating both development of new housing and the integration of refugees. However, initial research into the development of temporary housing for refugees, returned little on the planning process and even less on the involvement of communities. Reflecting upon collaborative planning principles, the research focuses on a case study in Amsterdam Nieuw-West and explores the ways in which the community surrounding the development was included in the process. The findings indicate that community partnerships mostly occurred once the project was operational, often through the project’s inhabitants. Further, it showed the combination of new actors helped to achieve mutually acceptable outcomes and define new practices for the delivery of temporary housing. for refugees. Additionally, I hope to highlight that in our increasingly diversifying cities, a collaborative approach to planning has never been more relevant for bringing people of different interests together to form inclusive environments.

Urban and Regional Planning
Author: Natalie Minetta Gardner

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Icon image: De Architect - Riekerhaven