Justus van Effen block, an island in Spangen?

For two months students from the Fieldacademy were able to use the bathhouse of the Justus van Effen complex as their headquarters in order to conduct a neighbourhood analysis of Spangen. This space was made available by Woonstad. Goal of the research was to explore new relationships between the housing block and the neighbourhood, with the emphasis on the development of new programs. Notable conclusion from the research among the inhabitants: “for now the Justus van Effen block functions as an island within the neighbourhood without problems.”

From the research it becomes apparent that the inhabitants of the block, often new in the neighbourhood, have little connection to Spangen. Neighbourhood inhabitants do their grocery-shopping at the well-known shops in the neighbourhood, take their children to school in the neighbourhood and own a club-card to the Sparta soccer club for example. Inhabitants from the Justus van Effen block do their grocery shopping en route at the Albert Heijn supermarket, take their kids to schools on locations throughout Rotterdam and orient themselves more on urban amenities rather than local ones.

It is notable how this has a great influence on how the neighbourhood is perceived. Inhabitants from the Justus van Effen block are bothered more by littering in the streets than inhabitants that have lived in Spangen for a longer time. The neatly shaped internal area also makes it less necessary to be involved with the area outside the block. Where other blocks in Spangen have almost no qualitative space within the block, the Justus van Effen block offers a tranquil and save space to reside. That the inhabitants would like to keep it that way became apparent at the final meeting. During this meeting the matter of closing or keeping open the internal area was debated. However, as long as the inhabitants of the block can control this area and inhabitants from the neighbourhood can visit it, everyone seems satisfied with the renewed monumental complex.

The study provides valuable leads for the formulation of a vision for the future of Spangen. The most important question here is to what extent such large scale developments will in time become part of the neighbourhood or will remain functioning as islands?