Safe Spaces Safe Places

Right to space in the city


Shelters, Stay-at-homes, government buildings or squares; Throughout the centuries, threatened, misunderstood or refugee groups have found (temporary) shelter in locations that are a prominent part of the street scene. By claiming space, the city (also) lays claim to understanding, acceptance and protection. The more space there is for vulnerable groups and the more visible the diversity, the more open and tolerant the city becomes. In the exhibition ‘Safe Spaces Safe Places’ you will discover the importance of architecture in creating a tolerant and safe city.

Why are undocumented workers, status holders and refugees housed on the edges of the city in cheap, temporary housing?

On the basis of various places in the city, we can see which emancipation issues this can involve. For example Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (1663, Jan Hartman) that accommodated the services of a Catholic minority in Amsterdam. Or De Oranjehof in the Geuzenhof (1942, Joop Pot and Koos Pot-Keegstra) that made it possible for single working women to live independently. And what about the Gay Monument by Karin Daan (1987) near the Westerkerk.

Then it suddenly becomes clear which groups are not (or no longer) visible. Why are undocumented workers, status holders and refugees housed on the edges of the city in cheap, temporary housing? What is the effect of the increasing number of digital communities on the awareness of underrepresented groups? How does the disappearance of “unprogrammed space,” such as incubators and festivals, affect the cultural life of the city? What is the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on security?

In this exhibition, we explore these questions at the level of the home and the city. We bring facts and policies into focus, we show how over the centuries buildings have played a role in issues of acceptance, and we look at the possibilities of claiming space in the contemporary city. In doing so, we ask the visitor to think along with us. How can designers, policy makers, residents and commissioners contribute to an open city, in which safe vulnerability and generous tolerance are self-evident?

The exhibition is expected to be open to the public at Arcam in mid-May 2021.

his exhibition is curated in collaboration with researcher and architect Ali T. As’ad, Doctoral Candidate at TU/Eindhoven, Cognizant Digital Business and Jorn Konijn, Head of Program at Dutch Design Week Eindhoven.