Buurland - The unintentional, intentional community in Utrecht, Netherlands

Jennie wheeled Sara over to Amsterdam where they spent most of the time in the hospital, the Van Gogh museum and watching Con Air. Sara was able to escape to Buurland for an evening with her friends Talia and Carlo. 

Buurland, Utrecht is a vibrant, inclusive, affordable and active community originally formed by happenstance. Four block of 1950s social housing apartments, overlooking two courtyards (yes, courtyards are a thing in Europe) were up for sale to a condo developer in the early 2000s. Before the deal was finalized, the financial crisis hit and the investors pulled out. The social housing department leased the site to the nearby University, which rents the apartments at an incredibly affordable price. That’s when a dear friend Carlo and his friends decided to move in. Starting with a few friends in the block, they began to transform the space, thinking about how they want their community to look like. If you could build your dream neighbourhood, what would be in it? Well, for this mid-20 friend group it included a large pool, a shared community garden, a chicken coup, a bartering post, a hot tub and a pizza oven. It also included an annual street party/festival that included the entire neighbourhood as well as outside guests. And aesthetically, they transformed the area as well - getting the landlords to spring for coloured paint, the eccentric colours of the apartments match the vibrancy of the neighbourhood. This not-so-intentional, intentional community tried to buy the property in 2010, raising money and media attention. What will come of Buurland? Will people relocate as a community? How can the grassroots, temporary and improvisational neighbourhood live on?  The residents are still trying to figure that out… 

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