Bouwen in de krimpende stad: Renovatie, functieverandering en vergroening in Haarlem en Leiden rond 1800

Translated title of the contribution: Building in a shrinking city: Renovation, conversion and greening in haarlem and leiden around 1800

Minke Walda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article provides an insight into private building practice around 1800 in the shrinking cities of Haarlem and Leiden. Studies of private building practice in the long eighteenth century have tended to focus on the renovation and modification of substantial private homes and country houses. Interest in urban transformation in periods of decline has only recently started to grow. The archival sources consulted for this article come from Leiden and Haarlem and cover the period 1800-1810. These documents make it possible to reconstruct part of the private building practice in a period of economic and demographic decline in detail. The records contain not just requests, but also the accompanying plans and elevations. The latter were intended to give the municipal departments and officials responsible for overseeing construction an impression of the structural alterations being proposed. The request and drawings together with the inspection reports, which were also archived, provide a detailed picture of the alterations carried out on a large number of houses, warehouses and sheds in both cities, and of urban transformation in a period of population decline, the supervision of private construction, and the evolution of the domestic floor plan. Reliable plans of ordinary urban houses from this period are relatively scarce. A source analysis of the drawings (legal context, type of drawing and draughtsman) was combined with an inventory and analysis of the structural alterations described in the requests, in the context of the spatial development of both cities around 1800. The source material shows that not only vacancy and demolition, but also conversion, renovation and greening were part of the redevelopment of the urban living environment. Capitalizing on the situation on the housing market and the space in the city, property owners and building trade bosses focused not only on buying up houses and 'knock-downers', but also on turning houses into warehouses and cowsheds or converting houses and workshops in various states of repair into attractive residences with 'spacious' gardens and more 'light and air' thanks to the demolition of back houses. The demographic and economic shifts that had led to vacant properties and demolition did not result in stagnation, but instead generated their own lively building practice catering to modern middle-class housing needs.

Translated title of the contributionBuilding in a shrinking city: Renovation, conversion and greening in haarlem and leiden around 1800
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)25-46
Number of pages22
JournalBulletin KNOB
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


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