‘A house is meant to live in’ sounds obvious but became a protest slogan in 2019 in Rotterdam, where the free market took over the city development. The harbour city known for its migrant working class wants to transform to a ‘Manhattan’ of Europe. The social housing of the poor has to make place for the highrise of the rich. Pension Almonde was a collective co-housing experiment to accommodate the fast growing group of city nomads who can’t find a home.
Vacancy Stories (2019)
The Pension Almonde experiment took place in depreciated social housing of the Havensteder housing association. The housing block was sold to a real estate developer who transforms the street into city villas. The fifty two households in the Almonde street were assigned a new home over a period of two years. Some of the tenants lived there for three generations. Vacancy Stories captured the personal stories of the people leaving and reflects on what this gentrification means for the street, the neighbourhood and the city.
Explore the North, deBuren and Pension Almonde offered six young writers a residency of two weeks in the Almondestraat. The Flemish writers Anke Verschueren, Younes van den Broeck and Sabrine Ingabire and the Frisian writers Marrit Jellema, Obe Alkema and Wessel de Vries were commissioned to hang out with a resident to document their farewell to the street. Each writer made a portrait of the resident, who then told his/her own story during the weekly Soup Evening. In the autumn of 2019, all residents performed at Explore the North Festival in Leeuwarden, and a presentation in the Belvédère House of City Stories (Verhalenhuis) in Rotterdam.
Boarding House Almonde (2020)
Every time a family of the sitting tenants moved out, Pension Almonde grew bigger until it occupied the entire street. Pension Almonde was from 2019 till 2021 a temporary home for hundreds of city nomands; students, homeless, divorced, prostitutes, immigrants, season laborers, and free spirits who did not want to pay to much for a month rent. The ground floor apartments were given to neighbourhood initiatives, and there was a hotel for international visitors and tourists who like something else than the usual.
With the upcoming demolition of this old Rotterdam street, the gentrification of the Agniese neighbourhood is a fact. An urban drama where, just like in the opera, it doesn’t end well for most characters. Every reason to stage a Slopera (merging Demolition (sloop in Dutch) with the Opera) where the colourful mix of city nomads portray the diversity of the homeless in the city.
The Slopera weekend was the last waltz for the Almonde street on September 26 and 27, 2020. (HAHA) Productions organised a street party with city nomads and neighbourhood initiatives of installations, performances, an open stage and guided tours. Every evening the Almonde Opera was performed, offering insight into the modern lifestyle of this city’s boarding house. Quarrelling, singing and partying, the street was brought back to life by a 100% Rotterdam cast, existing of leading actors like John Buijsman, Nastaran Razawi Khorasani, Jan Rot, Jacqueline Blom, Maartje Remmers and Gabby Bakker, reinforced by a choir of Codarts students, old and new residents of Pension Almonde and icons from the Rotterdam underground.
Location Almondestraat, Rotterdam
Period 2018 – 2021
Team Melle Smets (kwartiermaker en management Common/Community), Erik Jutten (Woningbeheer, contacten technisch en inhoudelijk Havensteder, zorgwoningen), Daan den Houter (Pensionbeheer, Art Rotterdam) en Piet Vollaard (Administratie, Governance, Communicatie, Onderzoek en Archief)
Commisioned by Stad in de Maak, Stichting Havensteder
Funding Stichting Havensteder, Stichting Doen/BankGiroLoterijFonds, Citylab010, Job Durafonds, Wijkraad Agniesebuurt (OpzoomerMee), Fonds Podiumkunsten, Verhagenstichting, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Stichting Volkskracht, Laurensfonds
Partners Suave Global, Kiosk Rotterdam, Taalent010, Bio Bulk Bende, No waste kitchen, Keju Kitchen, Cult North, Al Khema, Jeugdzorg Rotterdam, Rotterdamse Douwers, Pameijer, Motherdock, Rotterdamse Oogstmarkt, deBuren Vlaams-Nederlands huis voor cultuur en debat, Explore the North, RASL Erasmus universiteit, universiteit Antwerpen, Social Practices WDKA Rotterdam, (HAHA)Productions, OperaDagen Rotterdam.
Special thanks Lizzy van Gelder, Marcel Hoogervorst, John van der Knaap, Lisa Crawfurd, Els Bosman, Florentine Maasland, Marleen Nagtegaal, Willem Bongers, Els Desmet, Claire Gastmans, Mathé Többen, Mathieu Buyse
In collaboration with
Philippa Driest (waard), Jacco Janssen (gastheer), Jaleesa den Haan en Roxy Capriles (communitymanager), Frank Hanswijk (hoffotograaf), Daphne Koenders (communicatiemanager/PR), Joyce Lapworth (stagiair communicatie), Elise Gérin (stagi_x0002_air documentatie), Kirsten Spruit (vormgeving), Ellen van Tichelt (curator Leegstandproza), Anke Verschueren & Ted, Sabrine Ingabire & Marina, Marrit Jellema & Aad, Younes van den Broeck a.k.a. Spitler & Idris, Obe Alkema Claudia & Sylvia, Wessel de Vries & Brigitte (Writers & tendands) Benjamin Earl & Kirsten Spruit (video’s), Boo van Vlist (RASL senior researcher), Louis Volont (universiteit Antwerpen, PhD, researchgroup commoning), Scott Davies (Universiteit Groningen, PhD commons programma), Michelle Teran (lector Social Practices WDKA Rotterdam), Hajo Doorn & Louis van der Waal (Tekst, muziek en regie de Opera), (HAHA)Productions (Rolf Engelen, Roxy Capriles, Charlien Adriaenssens) Programma en regie de Straat, Paloma Garcia (design), John Buijsman, Gabby Bakker, Nastaran Razawi Khorasani, Jan Rot, Jacqueline Blom, Maartje Remmers, Stephanie Pan, Rolf Engelen, Gerard Olthaar, Jacco Weener, Luuk Haaze, Juul van de Laar, Isabel Pronk, Lisa Schol, Erik Jutten, Gilbert van Drunen (Spel buurt- en pension bewoners Pension Almonde), Codarts studenten Amir Vahidi (Koorarrangement en repetitor), Pietro Frigato (Ouverture), Matijs Jansen (Artistiek advies Wunderbaum), Lique van Gerven, Yoka van Zuijlen (OperaDagen Rotterdam), Iris van Wijk, Joyce Lapworth (Productie)