Renovating an icon of social housing

The International Social Housing Festival’s main venue -Museum Het Schip- is located in the iconic, early 20th century residential block, ‘Het Schip’. During the festival, the block will be completely empty due to a large renovation project being constructed.  The owner, housing corporation ‘Eigen Haard’, has commissioned construction firm Vastbouw to completely renovate the block and improve its energy efficiency. This is a very interesting project, as reducing emissions and decreasing the size of our ecological footprint is one of the main challenges of our time.

We are happy, then, that Vastbouw, the main sponsor of the ISHF, is organizing two events at the festival. The firm will share its knowledge and experience in the energy renovation of such an architecturally outstanding, non-standard building. The first event takes place on Wednesday 14 June, 15:30-17:30, and the second event takes place on Wednesday 21 June, 13:00-15:00 hrs. We asked  Ernest Melssen  (picture left) and Hans Nijman (picture right) of Vastbouw to introduce the events to us.

What is Vastbouw’s relation to social housing?

Hans: Vastbouw is social housing, as simple as that. Since the start of the firm, back in 1983, we have grown into the industry and offered a variety of real estate activities to social housing corporations.

Why is Vastbouw participating in ISHF?

Ernest: We are the construction partner in the current restoration of Het Schip, which is ISHF’s central location, so we felt it was important that we become the main sponsor. Social housing is in our veins, and we see participating as a kind of corporate social responsibility. It would be awkward if another construction firm would be the main sponsor, because we are working here.

Hans: Another reason is that we are a member of the European Federation for Living (who is also involved in the festival), and we are active in several European countries. So we are very curious to hear about the issues that will be addressed, and we are eager to meet new people.

What does renovating an icon like Het Schip mean to Vastbouw?

Hans: It is fantastic, but also very exciting because of the high quality of the initial design and the great financial risk of such a project. Next to this, we are excited about the project because we have to meet high standards in energy performance and obey strict regulations. This is quite a challenge when working on an old building like Het Schip.

What are the latest innovations that you developed or applied in your projects?

Ernest: We always try to innovate for technical, aesthetic, organizational, and financial solutions, but our latest innovation came from our sister company, “Energy Building”. This firm develops sustainable solutions, like a small windmill for social houses instead of solar panels.

What can we expect at the two events that you are organizing (Wednesday 14 June, 15:30-17:30 hrs  and Wednesday 21 June, 13:00-15:00 hrs)?

Hans: We will give a short introduction of the history of Het Schip, followed by an explanation of the sustainable solutions applied in renovating Het Schip. Finally, we will show some new sustainable solutions for social housing projects (Energy Building).

What are you expecting of the International Social Housing Festival in general?

Hans: We are expecting  a breathtaking festival where a lot of our invited relations will look back on the ISHF with a good memory for a long time.


Here is a recent movie on the renovation project (in Dutch), by housing corporation Eigen Haard:


Here is an older movie on Het Schip, published by local news channel AT5 in 2007, Dutch spoken, English subtitles:

More information about the two meetings by Vastbouw, on Energy renovation: Wednesday 14 June, 15:30-17:30, and Wednesday 21 June, 13:00-15:00 hrs.



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