Sustainable Cities™

Hoogvliet – Welcome in My BackYard (WiMBY!)

Hoogvliet, Holland, was the first Rotterdam suburb to suffer from rising housing vacancies and a decline in popularity of its housing stock. In 2001, a progressive regeneration project - WiMBY! (Welcome into My BackYard!) - was initiated to create a sustainable and attractive living environment in Hoogvliet. Targeting social exclusion, sustainable building principles and the creation of new economic activities, the goal was to turn Hoogvliet into a role model project on social sustainability.

Arkitektur i Hoogvliet, 11. april, Af Jager Jansen Achitecten, Flickr Creative Commons

How can you create a liveable place where residents feel at home? This was the leading question behind the regeneration project WiMBY! which was initiated in the post-war satellite town of Hoogvliet near Rotterdam in 2001. WiMBY! began as a small independent foundation whose day-to-day management was in the hands of Crimson Architectural Historians and journalist and politician Felix Rottenberg.

Hoogvliet was the first Rotterdam suburb to suffer from rising housing vacancies and declining popularity of its housing stock. During the 1970s and 1980s, the upper middle class started to move away from the area, leaving lower income groups such as ethnic minorities and poor single households behind. Major issues in the area consisted of the exclusion of immigrant groups, a large number of teenage mothers, rising individualisation etc.

Through architecture, planning and socio-cultural projects WiMBY! aimed at contributing to social and cultural inclusion. Tools implemented were the preservation of greenery, new ways of collective housing and the participation of its inhabitants in urban renewal. The overall idea for the regeneration of Hoogvliet was to focus on creating a liveable and attractive neighbourhood in cooperation with the residents as opposed to concentrating on form and physical renewal.

SchoolParasites, 5 July 2006, by Ruimteinlux, Flickr Creative Commons

Over a six-year period, WiMBY! developed and implemented a series of varied projects on the basis of a creative analysis of Hoogvliet. The conviction was that the best and most inspiring basis for the future of a post-war suburb like Hoogvliet was to enhance, renew and make the best use of the existing physical and social characteristics and qualities in the area. The projects initiated by WiMBY! ranged from experimental buildings and small-scale projects to joint ventures in the fields of architecture, urban planning, education, arts and socio-cultural projects.

WiMBY! combined a narrative and empirical approach to Hoogvliet with a pragmatic, coalition-forming method. WiMBY's 27 projects contributed to the social and physical reconstruction of Hoogvliet with every project based on programs, wishes and demands already existing in the area, which WiMBY! moulded and formed into projects, events and objects. 

Today, new and improved accommodation combined with a progressive and affirmative social policy has given the residents affected by the WIMBY! project a feeling that social mobility is possible. The self-reassessment is sparked by a better and safer dwelling-environment which has improved Hoogvliet's overall reputation. 

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014