The Netherlands: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Almere: Mass Housing in Disguise

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Housing construction in the post-WWII Netherlands is characterised by policies and regulations, at national and local level. The tradition of ‘volkshuisvesting’ which promotes planning for the whole population including the middle class, largely determined the production and allocation of housing through planning policies, subsidy, and tax programmes. In the Dutch context, it is difficult to distinguish ‘middle class’ by housing typology, ownership or neighbourhood, as middle class is 1) broadly interpreted, 2) housing areas combine different housing types and groups, and 3) the residents’ composition of residents’ changes over time. Driven by planning and housing policies and influenced by technological and social developments, different housing types emerged over successive periods. This article explains three key periods by outlining the historical context and illustrating with corresponding case studies. In the reconstruction period of the 1950s, industrial mass-housing systems were developed, a clear example of which is the mid-rise Airey housing development in Sloterhof Amsterdam, notable for its façade of concrete tiles. In the late 1960s, technological developments made large high-rise flats possible. The flats in a park-like setting in Ommoord Rotterdam are a clear example of this modern living environment, intended for middleclass families. In the 1970s, an aversion to highrise and uniformity and more attention to quality and diversity in form and households led to more varied architecture on a human scale. The organically shaped low-rise housing in ‘woonerf’ De Werven Almere with a diversity of housing types combining tenants and homeowners is indicative of this period. In The Netherlands, large-scale housing projects from successive periods are not always recognisable as mass housing due to the row house as the popular housing type of the middle class.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Middle-Class Mass Housing: Past and Present of the Modern Community
Subtitle of host publicationWorking Group 1 MCMH Atlas
EditorsInês Lima Rodrigues, Dalit Shach-Pinsly, Kostas Tsiambaos, Vlatko P. Korobar
Place of PublicationLisbon
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)978-989-781-862-2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • urban landscape
  • arquitetura contemporânea
  • contemporary architecture
  • políticas públicas
  • public policies


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