In Amsterdam, affordable homes are scarce, while at the same time, empty office buildings are a dime a dozen. Architects Space&Matter and Blauwhoed developers spotted an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, and this spring they are launching Crowdbuilding, a platform for community driven redevelopment.

With the crisis raging, it has become increasingly difficult for people to find affordable housing that matches even the most modest demands. In contrast to the scarcity of housing, there are over seven million square meters of vacant office space in the Netherlands.

The Crowdbuilding platform connects communities with similar housing needs to these vacant office buildings. Next Space&Matter develops a housing concept with the community, based on their needs: musicians might want a home with sound proof rehearsal spaces, while a group of seniors might want easy access to the street and a large communal living space for interaction with the neighborhood and their visitors.

Once a concept has enlisted enough support, Crowdbuilding approaches the vacant building’s owner. It is a win-win situation: the owner is secured a future group of buyers, and the buyers can look forward to a great affordable home that fits their living needs.

But there is a third winner. Young architects starting out in today’s economy can only dream of designing grand new buildings like Rem Koolhaas; there simply is not enough demand. And why would you want to design something new, when there are so many sleeping, vacant buildings waiting to be kissed awake?

The Crowdbuilding platform offers a test case for a new type of architectural practice where the community and its needs are the starting point. In the process of developing Crowdbuilding, Space&Matter and Blauwhoed have flipped the architectural model upside down. And it might never be the same again.

A nice video, in Dutch, explains it all.

Watch it with English subtitles here.

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