By Viva van Jaarsveld and Ife Alayande
When thinking of the architectural landscape in Amsterdam South-East, most people think of tall and grey flats adorned with satellite dishes. However, some a few houses break the pattern. Reporters Ife and Viva have visited a squatters’ house that is next to Metro station Kraaiennest. Students Bobby (28) and Sela (24) are the residents of this odd-looking residence. They tell us about their life at this unique place.
From the outside, it does not seem like a habitable place. We walk up the concrete stairs. The walls are sprayed with graffiti reads ‘Squat-life’ and ‘Kraakman’. We walk past a shopping cart, chairs and rubbish.
While we are doubting whether to ring the bell of Kempering 100B, a man walks up the stairs behind us and asks if he can help us. He seems friendly and introduces himself. He then asks us to come inside. Bobby is a 28-old-year young man and lives in this squatters’ house together with two other men and one woman. ‘’I would like to offer you a coffee or tea, but unfortunately we do not have electricity at the moment.’’ He decides to give us a tour of their place first and tells us about ‘The Squatters’ nest’, the name of their place. ‘’It would be quicker for me to go to Starbucks and buy a coffee than to get this generator to work”, Bobby jokes.
Bobby has long, messy, brown hair and is wearing a red “Big Bang Theory” t-shirt. He shows us their incomplete kitchen (missing cabinet doors, no pans and cutlery), the living room with dusty furniture and a shower without access to water. While it sounds like this place is uninhabitable, it is the perfect recipe for a typical squatter’s house.
Bobby tells us the Squatter’s Nest used to be a parking lot. ‘’My friend asked me if I wanted to live here with him and his girlfriend. It is cheap and close to my university in Diemen-Zuid. I do not mind living at this place. I can spend more money on food and drinks. Also, most students do not save money, which I can. In comparison to other students, I think I have a pretty decent life.’’
The Squatters’ Nest is the polar opposite of the mosque right next door. The doorbell rings. ‘That must be Sela,’’ Bobby says. Sela is Bobby’s roommate and his friends’ girlfriend.
Sela looks like the girl next door. She is wearing flared jeans and a lace top. Her black hat almost clashes with her light blonde hair. ‘’Who are they?’’ she asks Bobby. After introducing ourselves, she argues that most people are quick to have a wrong opinion of the Nest. ‘’It is not very clean, but I appreciate the fact that I can live here. I am used to it now. We have a very big living room, I can order food and when I want to shower, I can do so at the gym. If you live here for a while, you will find a solution for everything.’’