Space-S receives Silver Award at World Habitat Awards

A prestigious award


The residential building Space-S in Eindhoven was declared World Habitat Awards Silver Winner 2020. This prestigious award in the field of housing is presented annually in collaboration with UN-Habitat to the most outstanding and innovative housing projects from across the world. The building consists of 402 social housing units at Strijp-S, is owned by housing association Woonbedrijf and was designed by Inbo. Striking about this project was the involvement and participation of the residents, which reached a level never before seen in the social rented sector.

Space-S: ‘create your own’ and showing guts
Space-S is a project that came about by applying the concept of co-creation: together with over 1000 prospective tenants as clients in addition to housing association Woonbedrijf. Under the slogan ‘create your own’, the future tenants contributed to the design, housing units and the communal living from the very onset of the project. During the design process, they expressed their housing desires and dreams for the neighbourhood.

David Ireland, Chief Executive of World Habitat, said: “Most Housing Associations in Europe and beyond know that resident involvement and participation is important for successful housing. I don’t know anywhere where the principle has been taken so fundamentally as Space-S. If social housing providers want an example of how to develop a great and inclusive housing estate, they couldn’t find a better example than Space-S.

This co-creation led to a wide variety of housing types as well as a mix of societal and commercial functions. Besides apartments, lofts and live/work units, the complex also houses a hairdresser and a private music school. Furthermore, shared facilities such as living rooms, a community centre and roof gardens are also present at Space-S. The residents have a feeling of ownership through the management of these shared spaces and the rental of units that become vacant.

“As an architectural firm, we feel responsible for creating neighbourhoods where the residents can feel at home”, tells Aron Bogers, architect and partner-director at Inbo. “This really makes us hugely proud of this award. It is a grand compliment to everyone who helped make this project successful: the residents, Woonbedrijf, Inbo, and many others. Space-S is unique for the large scale in which the end users acted as the clients, but even more so for what that eventually yielded. By continuously actively opening conversations, we connected people with each other and with their environment. Every time we succeed in doing that feels like a victory in itself.”

Angelique Bellemakers, former district manager of Strijp-S for Woonbedrijf and now working at Inbo, adds to this: “Space-S is about showing guts and letting go. It is not merely limited to involving future tenants as co-clients. As a housing association, we must be able to provide space by moving our own processes and organisational principles to the background.”

A tight-knit, inclusive community
There is a large diversity of tenants. The building houses families and singles, elderly and students, entrepreneurs and youths with a disability. The project managed to connect the residents and to stimulate encounters. Together, they have formed a tight-knit, inclusive community. This is made possible through the high-quality and affordable housing offered by Space-S.

Resident Thursten, aged 28, lives at Space-S with his girlfriend. He said: “I have autism. The diversity at Space-S made it possible for me to live among ‘normal’ people. This makes it easier to come out of your shell and get in touch with other residents. It is much more accessible; the social hurdles here are much lower. Personally, I’m very open and speak out easily, but this can be very difficult for others. The group chat offers a solution: when someone asks to borrow a drill in the group, for example, there will always be a positive response to that. Furthermore, all new residents receive a welcome package, which includes information on whom to approach with specific questions. Space-S doesn’t solve all of your problems, but living here really makes it much easier to meet new people and to get in touch with others. You’re not different, you’re just one of the group! That’s Space-S.” 

A unique example of co-creation
The key element in the design of Space-S is the residents’ participation. This project is a unique example of co-creation in the social rented sector. The future tenants played a leading part in the design of 30,000 m² of living environment. The realisation of this project did not entail any additional costs, but it did result in higher quality. We received this World Habitat Silver Award thanks to the great collaboration with WoonbedrijfUrhahn stedenbouw en strategie12N Urban MattersConversation NextRutger Büch and Stam + De Koning, and the current residents, obviously.

- Watch the videos of the residents here.

More information: Aron Bogers, Angelique Bellemakers