A research comparing the relation between urban development and ownership, by owners as well as users of the space, with casestudies in the Netherlands and Belgium.


The Dutch Governance had, since World War II until recently, a direct involvement in urban development. Due to the crisis, the involvement of the Dutch governance decreased and, due to European policy, housing corporations sell parts of their property to the inhabitants. As a result, the Netherlands have to rethink their strategies to further develop their cities.

In Belgium, the ownership among inhabitants has always been high. As a result, direct governance involvement has been impossible and the large scale urban development within in the existing city almost impossible.


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Developments in Universiteitsbuurt, Antwerp, between 2009-2013


For the research the development of two districts, Oude Westen in Rotterdam and Universiteitsbuurt in Antwerp, are being compared. Who owns the ground and the buildings? What are the developments and what are the positions or roles of the different players? What are the impacts of these developments on the district? To what extend can both countries implement the other’s urban development strategy?


The districts of Oude Westen, Rotterdam and Universiteitsbuurt, Antwerp are located in a similar position within the urban fabric. Both are near the central station and next to the inner city. The main developments in both cities are taking place around these districts and less within. Both districts are urban housing areas, mixed with other functions. However, looking more closely to the developments within the districts, they are very different.

Housing corporations mainly own the ground and the buildings in Oude Westen and these are, due to new policies, selling a part of their property to inhabitants. As the many action groups and bottom-up initiatives illustrate, the district furthermore has a strong social cohesion. In this district, who owns the space and who uses it aren’t always the same persons.

Universiteitsbuurt has a larger private ownership. Private investors mainly initiate the larger developments in the district. These developments are, however, still relatively small, compared with Dutch Developments. Other developments are investments of owners in their house. These developments are not always connected to a change of ownership. In this district, who owns the space and who uses it is more connected.


This research is done in co-operation with Bureau Lofvers and is funded by the Creative Industries Fund NL.


Creative Industries Fund NL, 2o13, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Antwerp, Belgium