Differentiation and Cohesion

Collective Private Commissioning in the Netherlands


  • Dick van Gameren TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment


In a recently broadcast episode of current affairs programme De slag om Nederland (The battle for the Netherlands), architect Pi de Bruijn credited the successful rebuilding of the Roombeek neighbourhood in Enschede to the fact that no project developers had been involved. Instead, the homes had come about through private and collective commissioning. In the architect’s view, this method of development had produced an attractive and thriving neighbourhood, which has since become a tourist destination. In other parts of the country too, local governments are now trying to promote the practice of private commissioning. Housing production has fallen dramatically, while sites that were purchased for large sums of money and are ready for building are still awaiting construction plans. Developers and housing associations are bailing out, thus clearing the way for private initiatives, whether individual or collective.

Whether or not this indicates a definitive shift in the Dutch housing market is impossible to say at this point in time. But what we can do is try to assess whether the increase in private initiatives is resulting in the construction of diff erent types of dwellings. Of particular interest here is the practice of collective commissioning, in which the balance between individual requirements and collective interests seems to offer a new principle for housing design.

Author Biography

Dick van Gameren, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

Dick van Gameren is dean and full professor at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of Delft University of Technology, and partner at Mecanoo architecten in Delft, the Netherlands. Combining his work as an architect with a professorship, Van Gameren maintains a critical approach to design by lecturing, researching and publishing. In 2007, Van Gameren won the prestigious Aga Kahn Award for the design of the Dutch Embassy in Ethiopia. In 2008, Van Gameren founded the book series DASH (Delft Architectural Studies on Housing) and is since then editor in chief. At TU Delft. He leads the Global Housing Study Centre and is also board member of the Archiprix foundation, of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre in Rotterdam and of the Amsterdam based AMS Institute. He is also a member of the TU Delft Global Initiative Steering Committee.