Squatting in the Netherlands became big in the 80s, when a serious lack of housing caused young people to move into abandoned buildings. Squatting in Holland soon turned into a political ‘movement’. The Amsterdam squatters movement (‘Amsterdamse krakersbeweging’) turned militant and clashes between the squatters and the riot police became a regular sight.
Legalized squatting in Holland 1994 – 2010
The squatters war ended in the 90s, when the Dutch government legalized squatting in 1994. The new law stated that people are entitled to live in buildings if they had been empty for at least one year. The owner of the building could evict the squatters only in court and by good reason. For almost 15 years the squatters movement in Amsterdam flourished, saving many remarkable buildings that were ready to be destroyed, setting up artist workplaces, stages for performing artists and organizing alternative events.
Squatting in Amsterdam banned in 2010
On October 1st 2010 the new law ‘Kraken en Leegstand’ came into existence. Some of the squatter collectives turned to the court to secure their rights. The judge decided that no house can be evicted without interference of a judge.
On Tuesday July 5th, the police evicted Schijnheilig, a squat in the centre of Amsterdam at Passeerdersgracht 23, after the judge gave its okay. The former school building had been squatted since January 2010. The building had been set up by the squatters with a stage, exposition room and a debate-film room. During the eviction 150 people were arrested.
Famous Squats in Amsterdam
Many squats in the centre have been there for years. The old film academy of OT301 for example started as a squat on Overtoom 301. Now it is owned by the squatters and turned into an alternative cultural centre with as stage for music and film, a vegan restaurant and artists workspace.
The huge building of Vrankrijk on Spuistraat has been squatted since 1983. In 1992 part of the building was bought by the squatters. Vrankrijk is most famous for its political views, debating globalisation, capitalism, animal rights, anarchism and feminism. Bands from the punk, ska and alternative scene played in the bar downstairs. When a visitor to the bar was heavily beaten up by one of the residents in 2009 and the bar seemed to lack updated license, the bar was closed. It’s been open again in 2016, awaiting what the future will hold for the famous Amsterdam Squat.
Across the street are the famous Tabakspanden a thing of the past. In March 2015, the police came to drag out the remaining squaters. In 2016, the first apartments are sold. Newspapers have been noting cynically the enormous prices of the luxury apartments. It housed squatters, artists and junkies for 30 years, now people pay 520.000 euro for a flat of 60 m2.
OCCII and De Binnenpret
At the most southern exit of the Vondelpark lies the wonderfully designed OCCII, a Squat a with weekly programme of music and live performance. It is located in a former horse tram station, dating back to 1884 and its colourful design beautifully maintained throughout the years. It’s actually a complex of buildings surrounded by large garden, that one can enter from the side street.
All of the buildings were part of the horse tram station: the old stables are converted into artists workplaces, a cafe, a restaurant, an anarchist library, a recording studios and some apartments. The entire complex was squatted in the 1980’s but since 1994 legalized. Most famous was the sauna, Fenomeen, however that was closed in 2011.
Kraken gaat door
The Amsterdam squatters have announced that they will continue to squat empty buildings (‘Kraken gaat door‘ or as the new saying goes: Kraken draait door‘).