The last 15 years have seen radical shifts in the roles of the various players in the Dutch housing sector. In particular, the privatization of Dutch housing corporations in 1994 has translated into a new dynamic in processes of urban renewal. At present this is most evident in the tackling of so-called problem neighbourhoods, where the policy of the parties involved is increasingly focused on reducing the number of rented properties in the social sector while increasing the number of owner-occupied properties for medium- and upper-income brackets.
The process of transforming a neighbourhood previously inhabited by people from the lower social strata into a residential area for the middle classes is termed ‘gentrification’. Initially, this was a bottom-up process and was often driven by the ‘creative class’, as seen in run-down parts of London and New York, but this mechanism has now been discovered by the market. The creative industries and cultural facilities are now being used as a top-down instrument to kick-start this process. OASE 73 explores the theoretical background to the phenomenon of ‘gentrification’ from various perspectives, such as the visual arts, cultural history, economics, landscape and urban design, and sociology. This issue also includes case studies on London, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Vienna.