The Poortgebouw is a national monument located by the River Maas in the Kop van Zuid area of Rotterdam, Netherlands. It was built in 1879 and experienced a range of uses until it was squatted October 3, 1980. It had been standing empty for 2 years and was squatted as a protest intended to highlight the lack of affordable residential housing in Rotterdam.
The Poortgebouw was originally planned as one of two identical buildings separated by water and guarding the narrow entrance to the Binnenhaven, part of the original port of Rotterdam. It was intended to be the administrative headquarters of Rotterdamsche Handelsvereniging, but when the owner went bankrupt and fled to the United States of America the second building was not built. Later a smaller version was constructed, only to be demolished in 1937. When the Poortgebouw was squatted, the intention was to use the building as living space and a youth centre. After much negotiation with the city council, it was agreed in 1982 that the squatters could stay as a housing association (Vereniging Poortgebouw). They would pay a low rent and undertook to maintain the inside of the building. The first rent contract was signed in May 1984. The Poortgebouw became home to a group of international artists, musicians and activists. Many grassroots, not-for-profit activities were held or planned at the Poortgebouw. It was used for music concerts (punk, ska, rock, acoustic), comedy nights, spoken word events, discussions and film nights.
The address of the Poortgebouw is Stieltjesstraat 38, 3071 JX, Rotterdam.
In recent years, the Poortgebouw has had a "Éétcafé" every Wednesday evening (not in August) with vegan food. There are a free shop and a voko which sold organic food at wholesale prices both of which are open to the public during the cafe from 18:00 - 21:00. There are regular open days, and also the Poortgebouw hosts occasional free concerts, discussions and film nights. In the late 2000s, there was an infoshop called the Autonomous Library, which was open during the cafe and other events.
In July 2001 the Poortgebouw was sold by Woning Bedrijf Rotterdam (WBR), a semi-privatized company maintaining council-owned buildings, to de Groene Groep, a development company. The building was sold for 350,000 euro, which is approximately the price of a large single-family home. It was sold without the consultation of the Vereniging Poortgebouw (the Poortgebouw housing association).
Since October 2004, the Vereniging Poortgebouw has been fighting in court the decision by de Groene Groep to cancel the rental contract, evict the tenants and renovate the Poortgebouw for office space. On February 17, 2006 the Rotterdam Court of Justice gave the verdict that the rental contract is ended and no alternative housing should be offered. The judge agreed with de Groene Groep that the only means to renovate the Poortgebouw building would be by redeveloping it as office space, supporting the contention of the developers that the outside of the building needs much work. The Vereniging Poortgebouw had argued that this work was needed because both Woning Bedrijf Rotterdam and de Groene Groep had neglected their contractual obligations to ensure the outside of the building was in a good condition. The Vereniging Poortgebouw has appealed this decision at a higher court in Den Haag and in 2010 that court judged that de Groene Groep was not permitted to evict the current tenants.
In 2017, the Groene Groep sold the Poortgebouw as part of a package of 350 buildings to a new speculator.
- Dee, E.T.C. (2018). Squatting the Grey City. Rotterdam: Cobble Books. ISBN 9780244385804.
- http://www.ab.krakendrotterdam.org/english.html[permanent dead link] Autonomous Library
- http://www.poortgebouw.nl/news/060217uitspraak1.html Archived 2006-10-02 at the Wayback Machine Poortgebouw: Rechtbank Uitspraak Feb 17, 2006
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