The battle in the streets of Amsterdam knows no frontiers: the long-lasting battle of De Slang huis.

Many people that are anyhow familiar with Amsterdam are well aware of the existence of De Slang huis occupied building in the center of the city (Spuistraat 199). Which has always been renowned as a magnet for different types of exhibitions and cultural events and, most considerably, incredible street art gathered there from many artists coming from all over the world.

It is almost ironical how while the all city’s attention was turned over the events occurring at the Maagdenhuis, and the ongoing student protests, Another “battle” has sparked in the streets of Amsterdam: the Squatters occupying De Slang huis have repelled the eviction through fires and paint bombs the 25th of March and have then been evicted the day after, the all block now seems like an abandoned battlefield. Traces of paint, fires, broken bricks and bicycles and the destroyed building now are the only remains of what once was probably considered the most flourishing cultural area of Amsterdam.

It is an interesting odyssey, the one that De Slang huis has been through: squatted in the 80’s when Amsterdam was going through a financial crisis De Slang huis has been considered one of the most successful examples of squatting  in Amsterdam: the 9 people which initially started the operation have been able to renew the all building implementing electricity and bringing running water as well.

They have been able to reject eviction demanded from multiple different owners thanks to Dutch laws which forbid eviction unless the owner had an actual plan for the building.

This is not the case anymore though, since from 2010 squatting is illegal in the Netherlands.

Moreover, most of the block has been bought by the social housing company De Key which has a plan to make luxury apartments in the area.

The squatters living in the house have tried multiple times to have a dialogue with the company in order to come to some sort of legalized renting agreement. But the company has never answered them. They even got the city council to intervene. Recognizing the value of de Slang huis the council has offered 1.4 million to buy the building off the key. Which has nevertheless refused and asked for 2.5 millions.

The squatters realize that the housing company is broke and that selling an entire block comes way more handy. However, they also conducted multiple surveys in the area realizing that the block is not only incredibly valuable artistically, culturally and economically ( some of the street art present in the block is incredibly valuable) but also that the inhabitants of the area incredibly value De Slang huis.

The proof of that was today when, one day after the squatters had voluntarily given the keys away and left the house, the all building has been re-squatted by civilians (and other members of the Squatting movement) which have fought against the eviction.

Similarly to the other sudden occupations which have happened lately in Amsterdam no one really knows what will happen from now on.

However, it seems that Amsterdam as of now is the “centre” of people fighting the overpower of private businesses in culture, education and decision making which (according to the protesters and apparently most of the public opinion) should belong to the citizens.

Luca Lomonaco


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