The history of DUWO

From barracks to the campus

Delft, 1945. The Second World War has just ended and the Delft Academy for Technology [Technische Hogeschool, or TH] is flooded by students who wish to resume their studies as well as by new freshmen. However, there is a tremendous housing shortage. The student houses and rooms are filled with homeless people from the bombed cities of Rotterdam and The Hague.

A few TH professors realise that something must be done quickly. They form the Foundation for TH Student Housing. This forerunner of the current DUWO immediately turns some large buildings into temporary student housing. In 1949, the Foundation builds the first student complex in the Netherlands within six month and with the help of thousands of students from Delft: the Duyvelsgat. These former army barracks provide housing to approximately 200 students. They are given facilities that are very luxurious for that time: central heating, a telephone, showers, and - yes indeed - cleaning ladies to keep the place clean. The Queen even visits the Duyvelsgat.

Student housing organisation avant la lettre
As the TH grows, so does the demand for accommodation. The Foundation gets cracking and purchases buildings in the centre of the city. Studying is becoming increasingly 'normal' and the number of students is rising rapidly. The student housing organisation avant la lettre realises that new solutions will need to be found in order to respond to the demand for accommodation. Between 1956 and 1958, the Foundation builds the first student flat in the Netherlands, on the Oudraadtweg, with rooms for 284 students. This marks the start of a big run. Ten years later, the Krakeelhof, the largest block of students' flats in the country until then, with 583 rooms, becomes a reality. By the early seventies, the foundation has built nearly 3,400 student residences. It has changed its name by then as well: Delft Student Housing Foundation [Stichting Delftse Studentenhuisvesting, or SDSH].

The perseverance of the student housing organisation is not only reflected in the growth of the number of houses. At SDSH, they understand that living well means more than just having a roof over your head and four walls around you. The atmosphere in a home is very important, too. Therefore, throughout the years, the Delft students retained the traditional right to nominate a new tenant for their home themselves, even if the government did not agree. The "vote-in" or "co-optation" in student houses is commonplace to this day, because that is part of the social stewardship of DUWO.

An international flavour
From the nineties onwards, an international flavour is added to the Foundation. Students from other countries have discovered the possibilities of studying in the Netherlands and they must be accommodated as well. In Delft, the first complex for foreign students in the Netherlands is created: the Sebastiaans Hostel. It is soon followed by a second complex, because the target population is growing substantially. To help them in the best way possible, the SDSH creates a Short Stay Housing department, offering fully furnished accommodation. From that moment on, the Foundation cooperates with many large and small educational institutions. It becomes a major pillar for the internationalisation of education in the years that follow. These days, the department goes by the name of Accommodate.

Passion for students
In 1995, the SDSH merges with the regular housing corporation "Hof van Delft". Now called "DUWO", the organisation will also serve "regular" tenants. However, students continue to be the greatest passion of the DUWO people. And since the number of young people going to college continues to grow, shortly after the merger they lay it down once and for all: student housing is our core business.

To other cities
In the late nineties, DUWO begins to look beyond the municipal borders of Delft. In The Hague, it takes over the entire student housing responsibility from the The Hague University of Applied Sciences, opens an office and builds a large student tower at the Laakhaven. In 2003, the University of Amsterdam asks DUWO to become active in the capital. The first step is the acquisition of student housing for the Higher School of Economics. After that, it all goes very fast: opening an Amsterdam office, a merger with the Amstelveen student housing corporation Intermezzo and a lot of new student housing. This way, Amsterdam once again has a large-scale student complex within its city limits with the arrival of the campus-like Sciencepark I. In the meantime, DUWO is also expanding to Leiden, with 600 student rooms in the former homes of asylum seekers. Through Intermezzo, DUWO also acquires the guardianship of the largest campus in the Netherlands: Uilenstede. This campus, now housing over 3,000 students, was built between 1968 and 1970 by the Amsterdam universities. In 2010, DUWO begins a sweeping modernisation of Uilenstede, including the construction of many new buildings.

Flexible on campus
By invite and in cooperation with the educational institutions DUWO is focussing on campus construction elsewhere as well. In Delft, vacant historical educational buildings of the University of Technology are renovated and redeveloped into a campus. In Leiden, The Hague, and at four locations in Amsterdam, campus housing is realised as well. At first, this is done by means of traditional construction, but - compelled by the ever-increasing numbers of students, the ongoing housing shortage and the high investment costs of student housing - very soon a switch is made to modular construction. Initially, DUWO constructs temporary student residences with space boxes and sea containers. This marks the beginning of a period in which DUWO distinguishes itself as the developer of industrial, flexible and demountable construction (IFD). Today, the quality of an IDF DUWO student flat is no longer inferior in any way to that of a traditionally built complex.

New ideas
Construction alone is not a sufficient answer to the structural housing shortage. That is why DUWO constantly comes up with new ideas to create extra houses for students. The campus contract is a good example of this: a clause in the tenancy agreement that states that you can live in a student residence only if you are actually a student. If you are no longer studying, you must move no later than six months after the termination of your studies. This ensures circulation in the student residences, offering new students a better chance at finding accommodation. The campus contract works so well that in 2006 it is legislated.
Furthermore, DUWO creates more student housing by rebuilding regular homes into student housing and by taking over the management of homes owned by other parties in order to rent them to students. This results in hundreds of extra student rooms each year, as well.

Always cooperating
In all of its endeavours, DUWO always seeks cooperation with partners in all areas: tenants, educational institutions, governments, student organisations, fellow corporations and real estate developers. Educational institutions and student organisations may exert influence on DUWO policies through the Student Housing Advisory Council, established in 2005. Tenants may do so through the residents' organisations. Performance agreements are entered into with governments and educational institutions, while projects are undertaken with various parties. DUWO always invites further cooperation in new areas, even outside its own region.

SLS Wonen joins
The desire for another merger with a fellow student housing organisation - inside or outside our current area of activity - is always there. In 2012, Leiden-based SLS Wonen steps forward as a merging partner. The cooperation between DUWO and its fellow housing organisation from Leiden is so effortless that the merger is already a fact on 1 January 2013.
The origins of this latest addition to the family is actually very similar to that of DUWO. Leiden also had a huge shortage of accommodation for students after the war. This is the reason for the creation of the Foundation for Student Housing Leiden (Stichting Leidse Studentenhuisvesting, or SLS) on 6 June 1957. The foundation immediately develops a construction plan for a large block of students' flats at the Klikspaanweg. The Leiden fraternity Minerva disapproves: the flats would be too far away from the fraternity building. SLS board member Mrs. Dresden personally measures the distance, after which construction goes ahead. The Ster flat opens its doors three years later, giving Leiden its first large student complex.
The Leiden Foundation soon acquires Oude Vest 31, the first of many monumental buildings and courtyards in the city centre. As a result, the SLS develops into the main caretaker of monuments in Leiden. Good examples are the 19th-century former Pharmaceutical Laboratory of Leiden University and the former Elizabeth Hospital, which is now inhabited by more than 200 foreign students. Even more so than Delft, Leiden has lovely old traditional student houses along the canals in the city centre, many of which also have the status of a monument.
Later, the Leiden student housing corporation - by then called SLS Wonen - also develops affordable newly constructed housing by establishing creative relationships between commercial and social interests. An example of this is Driegatenbrug in Leiderdorp, which combines student housing with an aquatic centre. Like DUWO, this student housing organisation knows how to take the initiative and come up with creative solutions in which the interests of students are paramount. As of 2013, the two organisations therefore do so collectively, adopting each other's good ideas whenever possible.

Leading role
Today, DUWO lets approximately 30,000 homes in the regions of Amsterdam, Delft, The Hague, Leiden as well as in Deventer, which was added at the start of 2015 through a takeover of the student housing there. The Quality Centre Housing Corporations Rental Sector (Kwaliteitscentrum Woningcorporaties Huursector, or KWH) has been awarding DUWO with rather satisfactory grades for many years now. However, this is not a time to be complacent. There is much work to do. It continues to be difficult for students to obtain affordable and good quality housing. As the largest student housing organisation in the Netherlands, DUWO wants to continue to play a leading role in reducing this housing shortage and to further improve its service pertaining to student housing. To serve its target customer group optimally, in 2013, DUWO becomes an online student housing corporation: students are now able to take care of their affairs online, including signing their tenancy agreements digitally. This way, DUWO works very efficiently and cheaply. Moreover, in 2014, DUWO commences with an international collaboration with foreign student housing corporations. And from early 2015, international students are also able to use online services. Providing accommodation to as many Dutch and foreign students as possible through affordable housing that meets all modern demands: that is what DUWO is all about.



DUWO is the number one specialist in student housing in the Netherlands. We understand that housing is an essential part of student life. Based on our social principles, it is our goal to help as many Dutch and foreign students as possible find good and affordable housing.

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