Cultural production as a means of economic growth


Imgae : Freehouse

Freehouse foundation focuses on the skills and talents of local participants to drive cultural change in an otherwise problematic area of Rotterdam. This network of knowledge and expertise has given the area a new lease of life and opened up a growing cultural platform.

As one of the only districts in southern Rotterdam where most of the population are of non-Dutch origin, Afrikaander has promoted a different form of cultural integration which strays from the traditional cultural approach of the city. Freehouse facilitates physical spaces where local makers, youth, shopkeepers and artists come together to exchange knowledge, experiences and ideas. In doing so, they build an alternative, financially and socially sustainable economy, one that is locally built and developed with a self-organized community.

Freehouse uses a variety of  workshops, storeskitchensatelier and even its own transport system to showcase the creativity of the neighbourhood. The area is best known for its food and clothing market which now also acts as a platform and promotion for events organised by Freehouse.

Initiated by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk, the Freehouse Foundation provides an alternative to government-led cultural initiatives, which can often only target one demographic. By focusing the project on the unique skills of individuals in the area, the foundation has empowered local artists and craftsmen to drive change in their neighborhood.

“Freehouse has focused since 1999 on the micro-urbanism emerging in small communities across the city. The project is based on inclusive urban development through community participation and self-organization and on co-operative cultural production as a means for economic and social growth.” Radicalizing the local: Inclusive Urban strategies.

As of 2014, the skills-based Afrikaanderwijk co-op will take over the management of functions to become a self-sustaining local platform.

Agile City Taktal, Freehouse

All images above from Freehouse