A Tale of A Tub

a case study by REMCO TORENBOSCH
April 22 – June 18, 2023


The availability and affordability of housing in the Netherlands is under severe pressure, with the country’s homeless population doubling in the last ten years and housing shortages continuing to rise. Low-income families in particular are affected by the widespread selling, liberalization, privatization and demolition of social housing. As a result, affordable housing has become severely scarce, especially for people with disabilities, the elderly, young adults and aspiring first-time home owners. The marginalization of social renting has consequently made the private rental sector more expensive and less secure, leaving middle-income households in a precarious position. What opportunities arise when the housing rights take precedence over property rights in the transformation of the city?
— Based on the Woonopstand Manifest

HOUSING takes place in the Justus van Effencomplex, a historical complex in Rotterdam’s Spangen neighbourhood. The complex was built in the 1920s when the city’s port and industry grew tremendously, which led to the first housing crisis. In the 1980s, during the second housing crisis, developers combined the original 264 small dwellings of the Justus van Effen-complex into 164 standard maisonettes as part of an urban renewal project. Despite the renovation, the homes soon failed to meet modern housing requirements and the complex fell into disrepair. In 2012, the number of housing units was further reduced to 154 as part of a complete renovation project that brought the complex up to current living comforts. Anticipating the current housing crisis, this latest renovation transformed the Justus van Effen-complex from an idealistic social housing project for the working class into a middle-class residential community within Spangen.

HOUSING is a case study by REMCO TORENBOSCH that consists of an exhibition and public talks. It is the second part of an ongoing series of case studies in which Torenbosch collaborates with artist and archivists to research the history of (social) housing, accessibility and ownership. HOUSING focuses on the notion of (social) housing through the history and present of the Justus van Effen-complex, which exemplifies the last three housing crises in Rotterdam. The selected works consist mainly of interventions that actively dialogue with the historical space and its accessibility, as well as with the few archival documents on Rotterdam’s history of housing distress loaned by Het Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam. The public talks revolve around housing conditions within Rotterdam and Spangen, examine the complex influence of ownership and accessibility on housing, and explore possible alternatives.


REMCO TORENBOSCH studied at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, Universität der Künste in Berlin, and is an alumnus of the Rijksakademie Amsterdam. In 2013, he was nominated for the Prix de Rome. His work has been exhibited in places such as: Kunsthaus Zurich, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Kunsthalle Wien, De Appel Amsterdam, Victoria and Albert Museum London, CAC Parc Saint Léger, Het Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam, and GAMeC Bergamo.


HOUSING is supported by the Municipality of Rotterdam and the Mondriaan Fonds.