Housing Migrant Workers

The Form of the Corporate City Along the Rotterdam-Venlo Logistics Corridor


  • Renzo Sgolacchia IUAV, University of Venice




A flexible dwelling commonly refers to housing susceptible to modification to various functions or uses. Between the 1960s and 1970s, Architectural Design magazine published studies and prototypes of flexible architectures, such as container homes and mobile homes, as alternative options to the housing market. Temporary, mobile, modular, containerised, and prefab became synonyms of flexible.
These units proliferated to fulfil housing emergencies. The ordinary concept of flexibility, including, for instance, a dwelling capable of different customisations, shifts to a more restrictive meaning, revealing the intrinsic logistic nature of the containerised housing that, rather than goods, controls and distributes human beings. Through field research, the case study is the workers’ housing in the Rotterdam-Venlo corridor, a strategic trajectory of global supply chains. The logistical organisation goes beyond the thin enclosure of productive sites, regulating the mobility of workers and the flexibility of housing. Conceived by employment agencies to provide and discipline the workforce, workers’ housing is merely driven by efficiency criteria.
Disclosing contexts where migrant flows are less tangible and visible, this research’s crucial questions revolve around the relationship between flexible housing and rigorous logistic regimes, the corporates’ exploitative strategies and the bottom-up workers’ tactics.


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