Feature —

Are they or aren”t they? A response

Mark Zaitsoff BEd. University of Manitoba

Mark Zaitsoff uit Canada reageert op het artikel Welles Nietes (22 februari) over individueel opdrachtgeverschap. Door particulier opdrachtgeverschap te stimuleren zou er een grotere variatie in de woningbouw ontstaan denkt de overheid. Zaitsoff waarschuwt vanuit zijn ervaring in Canada voor een al te optimistische voorstelling van zaken. (De reactie is in het Engels)

After recently reading 'Are They or Aren't They', I was shocked to hear that none, or very little, of Holland's housing is taken on by individuals. After some thought I came to realize that a system such as this is most likely going to provide you with a more interesting archetypes and a greater amount of diversity between building types. Although it may be hard to believe, and I'm sure much of the debate at the conference in question was stating the exact opposite, I'm looking at this from the perspective of someone who has visited Holland and lived in North America all of my life. I have seen what a capitalist approach to housing is capable of yielding and it is not good. New suburban housing in Canada is taken on by developers and in many cases lots of land are sold in the suburbs to private individuals, the outcome is usually the same. Very ugly, prefabricated showhomes which are conscerned with exactly what Soeters said they will be conscerned with in Holland, square meters.

Having been to Holland after completing the undergraduate component of my architectural studies I came to the understanding Holland was very progressive in that it was conscerned with experimentation in the field of housing and was not afraid to take risks, which often yields very interesting architecture. Not to mention the social aspect of housing in Holland, Canada's social housing program has all but vanished over the past 20 years. In any event, I do believe this is an interesting experiment you may be undertaking, as specially limiting the experiment to 30%. It will be interesting to see the results of a project or policy with such huge consequences. I just wanted to be on the record in advance in stating that this may be a very big risk, even in a place like Holland who's architectural risks seem to pay off in big ways. A system such as this may place the entire concept of social housing at risk in a nation that I admire for its efforts to provide everyone with a roof and four walls while maintaining the highest architectural standards.