"Scum villages" planned
for Amsterdam


Shipping container homes in Zwolle

News: Amsterdam's problem families are to be moved to isolated caravans or shipping containers in the outskirts of the city under new plans announced by mayor Eberhard van der Laan.

The £810,000 programme will see social housing residents that continue to harass and intimidate their neighbours placed under surveillance for a period of six months. If they refuse to improve their behaviour, they will then be faced with eviction and relocation to one of several special units.

The new communities have been dubbed "scum villages" following earlier statements from right-wing campaigner Geert Wilders, who told Dutch newspaper the Telegraaf that offenders should be completely separated from society. "Repeat offenders should be forcibly removed from their neighbourhood and sent to a village for scum," he said.

Van der Laan's spokesman Bartho Boer has denied claims that the initiative will create "scum villages" and insists that the plans will encourage good behaviour and improve communities. "A neighbourhood can deal with one problem family but if there are more the situation escalates," he told Dutch News.

According to Boer there are over 13,000 complaints of anti-social behaviour every year in Amsterdam from victims of abuse and homophobia. Frequently it is these law-abiding tenants that are forced to move, rather than their nuisance neighbours.

"The aim is not to reward people who behave badly with a new five-room home with a south-facing garden. This is supposed to be a deterrent," he said.

Shipping containers are already being used for student housing in Amsterdam, but a set of ten have been set aside as a trial project for the scheme, where several persistent offenders have been housed under 24-hour supervision.

Another Amsterdam project that will use shipping containers is temporary retail centre Boxpark, set to open next year. Shipping containers are also being increasingly used as housing in other countries, including as emergency accommodation for victims of natural disasters in Japan. See more stories about shipping containers on Dezeen »

See more stories about housing »

Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

  • paraphernal

    Shame on the Dutch government and Amsterdam authorithies. This is a stain that will hardly be washed off the Dutch people’s face, in general. One does not need ghettoisation, even for these people. They should apply the law, not ‘deport’ them to a confined stigma. Besides, they might have children – innocent people that will eventually be pointed at in schools, etc.

    Not ultimately, the architects and contractors who participated in ‘designing’ this miserable ghetto, are amongst the lowest – a more social disgrace than the population targeted for their quarters.

  • alex

    I'm sure a lot of Dutch families living nearby 'problem families' would be pleased with this news, but I really hope it stays as an experiment and doesn't become a long-term solution.

  • donkey

    I’ve noted that one of the best ways to change someone’s bad behaviour is to label them as shit and give them even less to lose. See also London riots 2011.

  • AMS

    I live in Amsterdam north next to such a so-called ‘problem’ family. Their 8-year old boys shout HOMO every time we meet, which always makes their mom laugh. The policewoman we eventually called in after 5 months told us: those are really poor people, and if you don’t like it I’m afraid your best option is to move away from here.

    Needless to say that this housing scheme will fail, like all the other attempts to handle the issue. A quick Google for “tokkie” is a good refresher here.

    • paraphernal

      Thanks for the ‘tokkie’ hint! I come from a village where, in the 70s, the authorities built up houses for the nomadic gypsies to settle down; first winter they moved in used them as stables while they lived in tents outside.

      Perhaps it’s not the best analogy with the tokkies, apparently spawned by a generous culture of welfare, but creating colonies as such will not eradicate the problem. I get this dystopic vision where, one day, these sub-humans will take over in packs the ‘civilized’ areas of Amsterdam and create havoc in avenge, J.G. Ballard-style…

  • Ogier de Beauseant

    Container housing is a idea that’s time has come. Use steel ones for the hard-core offenders. They look damn good to me.

    • Nonie Ava Ault

      I agree; container housing is a really sound idea. Let us embrace it, and really go forth and be creative! I would love to see this project taken to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where a lot of the homeless are living under bridges, and on the streets over hot air vents. The shelters are hard to keep clean, and they are overcrowded; no proper walls between any one!

  • Husserl

    Sorry folks. I’m Jewish and lived in Amsterdam for nearly 37 years. My Dutch partner’s family was mostly murdered at Auschwitz. I have been discriminated against many times, both because of my ethnicity and birthplace – America. This plan will form Ghettos and will help gentrify the city. If the Dutch oligarchy had any good intentions they would spend more money on education. I have no patience for such authoritarian notions. Well, friends in Netherlands tell me that this deportation scheme won’t go through. There’s no parliamentary majority for it.

  • Eo267

    Container houses are good for charity projects, it will be a success as temporary emergency accommodation for victims of natural disasters, I like it!

  • Eve Ridley

    It is time we applied this in the UK. We are sick and tired of the ASBO generation and the fact that the police can do nothing about anything. The perpetrators get all the support and the victims get sweet FA.

  • Fer

    Disgusting! State-sponsored ghetto production. This is a new low for Europe. I expected better from the Netherlands.

  • sad old man

    Psst… 15 May 1940 not so long ago eh?

    Remember the National Socialist party that led the Germans into the Netherlands? Socialism, National Socialism, international, modern, social housing, ghettoes, concentration camps.

    At least it’s “green,” flowers, design, dope, rather than tanks and planes! Looks very far down a slippery slope though. Ah, Europe!

  • liberalstalin

    The best step would be to put them in the gas chambers – you would see a real change in the way people actually treat each other then. Human nature is easily guided – notice that even though no-one buys a newspaper anymore – all the papers have their own websites, give me the boy etc. Liberal or Nazi – there is no difference, both want control of your mind.

  • Cubasur

    … and the container mania comes full circle.