2019 – in progress
“The Flat” tells the story of some of the people who live and work in the L-flat in Zeist. There are 728 house numbers on the L-flat buildings – all social housing – and it is like a village with the population density of a city. Numerous issues go on behind closed doors, ranging from loneliness to language development delays, worrying policy makers and researchers and drawing the attention of the media. This story gives voice to the residents of the L-flat and exhibits the diverse features of our society.
I grew up in the L-flat. I have lived there for eight years. It taught me about the issues the Dutch society is still facing today, and how personal these issues are. I started collecting the stories of my neighbours, giving a face to these individuals that together form this so-called deprived neighbourhood, and to show that there is actually so much more to it.
Together with journalist Ingmar Vriesema, “The Flat” evolved into an ongoing project with a growing number of stories. It is now a website, consisting of text, visuals and a podcast. For more, visit www.nrc.nl/deflat
Text & research: Ingmar Vriesema
Idea: Ingmar Vriesema and Daniel Niessen
Photography: Daniel Niessen
Photo editors: Pauke van den Heuvel, Nicole Robbers
Final text editing: Merel Thie, Joke Mat
Design and technology: Miriam Vieveen , Janko Bosch, Ruud Puylaert,
Video: René van Dalen
The online production at nrc.nl/deflat
Alend, born in 2005, is a VMBO-student and feels at ease in the L-flat. He plays football at the field next to Porch Eight with his friends from all over the building. A few years back, Alend saw a dead man several porches down. He and his friend Daniel were on their bikes, it was early in the evening, and they saw a bunch of people standing around. “All of the sudden we saw that body” – the man had just jumped off the building.
JULIA & JULIAN
Julia, 54 years old, enjoys living with these many neighbours. Her life revolves around her son (Julian). He is diagnosed with an intellectual incapability and autism, and since a few years he also suffers from epileptic seizures. When this happens, she calls one of the neighbours. Sometimes, however, the seizures occur so heavily that she calls an ambulance to help her.