We Are Here & Stichting Noodzaak
De Vluchtmaat is an interesting prototype of a social model for an inclusive society. Its physical form is a redeveloped vacant office building where undocumented refugees, artists, business start-ups, relief organisations and activists collaborate and work. Undocumented refugees whose applications for asylum have been rejected are often unable to return to their country of origin. De Vluchtmaat shows that a living environment can be created where they participate in a community of active citizens. The 1980s office building on the periphery of Amsterdam was occupied by a community of squatters in 2015, who had moved around together as a group for some time. Talks took place with the owner in order to agree a situation which offered greater security for both parties, following which management of the building was entrusted to Stichting Noodzaak. The result is an economically independent model: the rental income from the business units covers all the fixed charges for the building such as gas, water, electricity and maintenance. The concept was developed as part of New World Academy #2 Collective Struggle of Refugees. Lost. In Between. Together. (2013), in collaboration with Jonas Staal and the refugee support group called We Are Here.
Even though this situation – where people have to lead an existence ‘in limbo’ – is anything but desirable, the committee is very impressed by this project. In just five years, this group has succeeded in transforming an unsustainable tent camp into a functioning and relevant habitat model. The way in which this group manages to continually regroup and organise itself, in spite of resistance and setbacks, is extraordinary. An impressive example of a hugely powerful bottom-up initiative. The nomination goes to Stichting Noodzaak and all the asylum seekers who have united in creating and shaping their personal living environment.