Part III:  The Nest! Approach:

Good Neighborhoods are not designed – they grow

 

“I thought of going to Australia for a year, I could go to the Nest! instead!” (Student, Pioneer Study)

 

 

The Physical

In the overall concept of the Nest! as described so far, the social and economical aspects are leading. On the level of the individual dwellings in the temporary settlement, however, the physical aspects are extremely important. The housing units are non subsidized and are intended for people who are not very rich. Therefore good design and engineering work is required to get solutions that are as cheap as possible and still offer an acceptable level of quality. (Not cold, not noisy and not too small). We therefore conducted research on how the physical aspects of the temporary settlement can be realized as cheap as possible. The results are put together as an inventory describing the housing units themselves, the services and requirements in regard to the location as well as recommendations regarding scale and the composition of the units.

 

 

Chapter 6: The Temporary Settlement

This chapter describes what a temporary settlement can look like, how it can be built and what it will cost. On the one hand the settlement must be built and dismantled in a short period of time, on the other hand, people must be able to live there with an acceptable standard of living. Principle is that no costs for the developers are involved that exclude the benefits.

Good options for temporary housing exist

Based on requirements both on the level of target groups (basic comforts for a cheap price) as well as on the level of construction feasibility (foundation requirements, durability, transport ) we selected eight suitable housing units and compared them in regard to relevant elements like price, montage and transport, cooking and sanitary facilities, household size, sustainability, and density. On the basis of this analysis the best option are the second hand housing units of the central refugee organization (COA), currently being sold on the market. The other options, however, can also be made use of depending on differences in types of use, length of use, as well as on implementation conditions ranging from immediate urgency to ideal conditions.

 

Infrastructural conditions for the setting up of the temporary settlement are examined in a case study for the location of the Arnhem town extension project Schuytgraaf. Options in regard to facilities, planning, density, soil quality and roads are described bearing in mind that the costs accrued need to stay under the rental prices that are available currently on the regular housing market .

 

A win win approach

To learn from other experiences a literature survey was conducted of comparable settlement projects. The main distinction of the Nest! is that it is not based so much on values and ideological goals but more on self interest and the development of partnerships with other stakeholders. Inhabitants as well as municipal authorities and private developers get involved in the Nest! out of their own interest, which is a very healthy businesslike basis for collaboration.

There is no selection of residents, inhabitants do not have to adhere to a certain culture or lifestyle, nor are they required to participate in anything. The possibilities that the Nest! offers are not gifts of charity, but opportunities and chances. Nothing more nothing less. Everybody is welcome, if the offered solutions suit them.

 

Those who make use of the economic and social opportunities the Nest! offers will nevertheless contribute to the liveliness of the settlement. From their perspective this happens more as a ‘side effect’.

They do what they do, because they earn with it, because it helps to build up future perspectives and/or because they enjoy it.

 

The ‘side effects’, however, are why others are interested in the Nest!. Developers will be able to sell more houses in the new neighborhood. The municipality will appreciate the improved social quality and the better image of the town. Contrary to squats the contributions of the pioneers in the temporary settlement will be recognized, appreciated and validated.

 

A diverse population and a wide range of options

The settlement offers a large scope of possibilities for participation ranging from full time living in the settlement, to part time participation to simply offering support, and ideas as “friends of the settlement”. The option of only living there and paying rent is just as valid as using it as an opportunity to gain a living or to gain experience. Living there only in the summer or not living there at all, but only participating in a certain project or a certain event is also possible. It will not be an “either – or”, “all or nothing” choice, there is a lot of middle ground.

 

In the ideal situation at least half of the pioneers consist of starter families. This includes newly arrived refugees, who may have older children then the Dutch starters, but are nevertheless starters on the housing market. Around 30% of the housing should be units that are suitable for students and other young people, living alone or in groups. Around 10 percent of the settlement could consist of units that are practical for artists, artisans or other creative professions to work at home. The last ten percent of the settlement consists of units for a varied range of “part time pioneers”. These can be pensioners or people on holiday enjoying the place as a pleasant and entertaining experience. It can also be people who are in a temporary situation that requires flexible housing, like a divorce, waiting for a new house to finish, or expatriates on home leave. Considering that less then half of the people working in Arnhem actually live there, there could finally be a market for ‘pieds a terre’ where people can stay during the week instead of commuting.

 

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