The ORKZ was once the largest squat in the Netherlands, and it has kept that atmosphere of community, creativity and shared responsibility. Nowadays the building is rented from a housing association in a unique arrangement where the residents are still collectively responsible for the maintenance of the building. As well as a diverse range of housing spaces, the ORKZ rents out artists’ studios, workshops and practice rooms. There is also a cinema, a café, a bar and a theatre.
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Every resident is expected to be actively involved. Together, the residents agreed that everybody should work one half-day a week for the building/community. This contribution is important for maintaining our way of living, while also keeping the costs affordable. It should be noted that the ORKZ is not intended as cheap housing for students.
As residents of the ORKZ, we are officially organised as ‘Coöperatie de Koevoet’ (Cooperation the Crowbar). This cooperation pays rent to the (much larger) housing association Nijestee, and the residents pay their rent to the cooperation. When you sign a lease contract, you automatically become a member of the cooperation.
The residents’ meeting, or the ‘Bewonersvergadering,’ is the most important part of living in the ORKZ. Residents vote on proposals made by the board or brought up by residents. Decisions made in the residents’ meeting are carried out by the board or one of the committees. Once a year the residents’ meeting chooses a new board, who are responsible for daily management and internal and external relations.
The physical maintenance of the building is carried out by two separate committees: the ‘Technische Dienst’ and ‘Onderhoud’ (‘Technical Service’ and ‘Maintenance’ or TD and OH). The Technische Dienst does this for the most part below ground: they maintain and adjust the central heating and the service pipes. Maintenance does their work mainly above ground: they are responsible for big and small renovation projects and maintenance of the communal spaces. Bigger jobs are outsourced. Residents usually do minor maintenance of their own rooms themselves.
The Koevoeter Courant (Crowbar Courier) is the main channel of communication of the cooperation. It contains messages from the board and committees, the agenda and notes from the residents’ meeting, opinions, announcements of fun activities like parties, band- or theatre performances, and any other things related to the ORKZ. Occasionally, when there are bigger issues to discuss, we publish an ‘Orkz Magazine.’
If you want to live in the ORKZ, you have to enrol with the ‘Intro’ (the Introduction Committee). Below are answers to questions you might have about the procedure. If you have a specific question, you can call the Intro. The number is 050-5267250. You can reach us on Thursday afternoon between 14:00 and 18:00. There is also a contact form.
Registration: Every Thursday at 20:00 (8pm) at the office of the ORKZ. Be on time, because we lock the door at 20:00 sharp. During this evening we give the ‘intro talk’, with information about living in the ORKZ and the enrolment procedure.
Tour: another part of the process is a tour through the building. During the registration evening you can sign up for a tour. It takes place every other Sunday night at 19:00, and it takes about an hour and a half. The tour guides will show you the whole building, giving you a pretty good understanding of what it means to live in the ORKZ. The tour can be given in English or Dutch, but please let us know ahead of time.
Handing in your letter: aspiring residents are also required to hand in an application/motivation letter. It can be written in English or Dutch. You can hand over your letter at the start of the tour, drop it in the mailbox at the door of the office, or hand it in at the office during opening hours (Mondays between 14:00 and 18:00 and Thursdays between 14:00 and 18:00). Don’t forget to put your phone number in the letter.
Extending your enrolment: four weeks after your registration you have to extend. There are various ways to do that: call the office, leave a message in the notebook at the office, put a note in the office mailbox or drop by on Thursday afternoons during intro opening hours. After these four weeks, your letter will be put in the ‘active folder.’ Units that are searching for a new neighbour usually pick about three people out of the folder to invite to a getting-to-know-you meeting (‘kennismaking’).
Important: every four weeks you have to extend your enrolment again. If you extend by calling or dropping by, the Intro will inform you about the next extension date.
By calling the office, leaving a note, putting a message in the notebook at the office or dropping by during opening hours.
Every four weeks (note: not monthly), counting from the day of enrolment. We will tell you what your next extension date is when you extend.
In the ORKZ, we live together and work together. It’s important to us that new residents make a well-informed, conscious choice to become a part of the ORKZ.
After the procedure of the four-week enrolment waiting period, you may be chosen for a room at any moment. However, there are ways to improve your odds; see below for some tips in the section “How do I increase my chance of getting a room?”
If you want to live in the ORKZ, you might want to drop by every now and then. You could volunteer in ‘het Eethuisje’ (the restaurant) or get to know people at the Bar. It also helps if you write a nice letter, in which you tell us something about who you are, why you would like to live in the ORKZ and how you might contribute to the ORKZ.
The rooms come in all kinds of shapes and sizes: they range from about 15m2 to 60m2. Most smaller rooms come with a ‘high sleeper’ (elevated) bed. Most of the time, new residents will get one of the smaller rooms on a unit (in some cases a ‘discount room’). Most rooms don’t have their own kitchen or bathroom, so you have to share those with your hall mates. Units vary in size and number of residents: there are units from two to up two twelve people. Discount rooms are the smallest rooms in a unit. Apartments or studios (rooms with a kitchen and bathroom) are seldom available, and when they are, they get assigned to residents who have been living in the ORKZ for a long time and were actively involved in all those years. Below you can read how much you pay for a room.
You cannot choose your room beforehand. If there is a room available, a unit might invite you to an introductory getting-to-know-you meeting, and if there is a personality click, you will be offered the room. You always have the right to turn down the room, but it is important that you do that during the meeting. If a unit calls you after the meeting to tell you that they chose you, and you tell them you don’t want the room after all, you are no longer eligible for a room in the ORKZ.
There are three rent levels in the ORKZ. A normal room costs €334 a month. An apartment or studio is €386,50 a month and the discount room is €315,69 a month. As well as paying rent, you have to contribute to the building by helping out. This is called ‘zelfwerkzaamheid,’ a word which is difficult to translate but can mean ‘self-efficacy,’ ‘own industriousness’ or ‘own labour’ (‘werkzaamheid’ is the Dutch word for both an activity and a virtue). When you sign the contract you agree to contribute at least two hours a week, on average, of your time to the ORKZ.
In the ORKZ we live together and help each other out. However, we are not an assisted-living institution with social workers or caretakers; the general idea is that you are able to live independently or arrange your own help.
The ‘Dagcafé’ (Day Café) is viewed as a public ‘living room’ for residents of the ORKZ. You can have a cup of coffee, tea or a drink most days until about 23:00. There is a pool table, a free give-away shop with secondhand goods, and a little shop with organic food products which is open on days that the restaurant serves dinner. The restaurant, the entrance and ticket sales of the RKZbios and Theater de Kapel are all located in the Dagcafé.
Opening hours: Always if Bios/Eethuisje is open (ma/di/do/vr/za/zo), otherwise when/if someone is available to run it (Zelfwerkzaamheid).
Check out RKZbios Website
The ORKZbios – from the Dutch word ‘bioscoop,’ a cinema – has distinguished itself for over 35 years as the smallest cinema in Groningen. It has a unique atmosphere and an original and distinctive programme of films and related activities. The RKZbios is located on the first floor of what used to be the chapel of the old hospital; a mural of Jesus above the projection room is a reminder of the former use of this unusual space. The cinema plays movies every Saturday and Monday, and sometimes on Sunday. It is also possible to rent the cinema for private shows or lectures. In 1980, when the old hospital had been claimed by the squatters’ movement for about a year, films were first shown in the building in another room on 16mm. A few years later, the cinema moved to its current location above the chapel. During the nineties the cinema got a 35mm projector – which is now being displayed in front of the theatre as a relic of lost times – and bit by bit the theatre became more professional. Five years ago we went from 35mm to digital projection and the theatre was refurbished. The RKZbios has been an independent cinema for over 35 years and is ready for the future! Opening hours: Sat. / Mon., from 20:30 For the programme of film screenings, the newsletter, or to contact them: RKZbios website
Openingstijden: za/ma om 20.30.
Programma/aanmelden nieuwsbrief/contact via de RKZbios website
Check out www.orkzbar.nl
The OrkzBAR is located in the former kitchens of the ORKZ, which is still visible from the tiles on the floor. Residents and visitors are welcome at night for a drink. Regularly, there are band performances. We have had some great artists in the Bar: de Kift, the EX, Hugh Cornwell, Mike Watt and Armand, to name a view. Our parties, always organised by Orkz residents, range from techno to metal night and reggae party to jam-sessions. The Bar is not for rent.
Programme of activities: Facebook or www.orkzbar.nl
] Contact: ORKZ.email@example.com
Check out www.theaterdekapel.nl
ORKZ Theater de Kapel is a fully equiped theatre where at the moment mostly musical performances are held. Since a few years the 'Concert in de Kapel' is known for its intimate and exciting concerts in very different genres: from traditional to experimental! We also organize jam sessions, and every last friday of the month the poetry event Poëzie Met !' is held!
The Kapel is available for activities of a non-commercial nature, and one condition is that it's freely accesible for residents of the ORKZ. We facilitate for example improv theatre groups and gatherings of different organizations that are preoccupied with the gas related earthquake problems in the province of Groningen.
Every three months there is an exhibition in the Dagcafé. Residents can display their drawings, photography, paintings etc. to the public. Exhibitions usually have a festive opening where the artist tells something about his or her work. If you have a nice idea or project, or if you have something to exhibit, you may contact us. Exhibitions will be announced on this website. Visitors can just drop by. And because it is located in the Dagcafé, you can drink a cup of coffee or tea if you like.
Check out www.orxnet.org
In every room in the ORKZ there is the possibility for a cable or WiFi internet connection. This is also arranged by volunteers, who are united in the ORXNet. We are open every Monday so you can come by to connect or disconnect your devices, or to ask for help when you have difficulties with your computer.
Everyone with a connection becomes a member of the association ORXNet and has a say in the members-assembly. If you want to be a member come by and don't forget to bring the MAC addresses of your devices and a form of identification.
Aside from a very fast connection, residents can also get a hosting for a personal website and cloud-storage. We also administer a guest network, where visitors can log on to the internet with a voucher code.
Opening hours: monday from 20.30.
As you can see above, most committees have their own contact information or their own webpage. But if you need to reach out to the ORKZ for a different question, you can always reach out to the board via email, or call our office when it's open (see below).