It is 2001 on Wolphaertstraat, houses are boarded up and empty. This is a street that the average Rotterdammer prefers not to visit. A number of people, mostly young artists, move into some of these vacant homes, a place where they felt they could work and live freely. They became familiar with the neighbourhood and befriended active local residents. Slowly the idea emerged to collectively manage and maintain the houses in the Wolphaertstraat.
In 2003, discussions were held to determine the future of the 43 homes on the Wolphaertstraat, which were marked for demolition. At the time, these houses were owned by the Nieuwe Unie (dNU)—currently Woonstad Rotterdam.
Foundation NAC (New Ateliers Charlois) was established by the end of 2004 as an advisory partner for dNU/Woonstad and the borough of Charlois, as well as future manager of the properties. It took a lot of patience and effort, but finally NAC came to a sustainable agreement with dNU / Woonstad. The agreement involved a renovation plan as well as a management plan for a period of 10 years.
This prevented the demolition of the houses. Each party involved took responsibility for a part of the agreement.
Between 2004 and 2017, NAC grew into a foundation that managed, at its peak, around 100 homes, both for Woonstad and Vestia. They established an art and culture fund accessible to its residents in Oud-Charlois, enabling those who lived there to make and show work, and to live as artists in a supported environment.
In 2015, new plans for a sustainable future for the Wolphaertstraat began. Discussions centred around self governance, and it was decided that the residents group took over from NAC. The residents established a core group to manage this, and started to ask the question: what kind of future do we see for Wolphaertstraat?
In 2017, association W1555 presented their business plan to Woonstad Rotterdam. The association had the ambition to acquire the property of Woonstad in the form of a housing cooperative. However, the business plan showed that foundation repair, renovation and acquisition costs were too high. It was agreed that the properties would be renovated, however Woonstad would remain the owner and hold responsibility for the upkeep and sustainability of the houses, while residents’ association W1555 would take over management of the properties and act as an intermediary landlord, leasing the spaces to the residents or users.