Humans of TU Delft: Karlou Westerbeek

Who are the people who study and work at TU Delft? We meet them in Humans of TU Delft. Karlou Westerbeek wanted to gain some skills and experience beyond what she was getting in her architecture studies. As chairwoman of SHS Delft, she did just that.

“The main goal of SHS is to transform vacant real estate into student housing, but we realised that there are other groups in society that have a lack of housing and also experience loneliness. In our latest project, one part of the building still had 40 elderly people living there. But the other part of the building was completely empty so we renovated that into housing for 110 students. And there are also 32 spaces for economically homeless people to give them a space to feel at home and to make their way back into society. They all share a common space in the facility where they can eat and meet together and share their life stories.

SHS did some research into what brings people together and how we should design the space. We also worked together with students from TU Delft and TU Berlin and we talked to the users about what they wanted to have. There were a lot of things we didn’t know and the only way to learn was to talk with the people who were actually going to use the space. Now they feel like it’s their place and that they helped with the process.

This is the first project where we mixed the target groups and it’s the first project in the Netherlands where three different societal groups are living together in this way. It’s also unique that it was realised by students. We’re getting attention from other cities that are interested in this idea.

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Heather Montague / Freelance writer

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