The last months of House 108

‘There’s no place like TWC’

Tuindorp Huize 108 Foto: Tara van den Broek
Some of the students living at House 108, located in TWC's Red Building. Photo: Tara van den Broek

The next few months will be rather strange for the students living in the Red Building. They’ll have to look for another place to live, say goodbye to their roommates, and furnish a new room. Before that happens, they might also have to welcome new roommates with a temporary rental contract. Last but not least, they've got to plan a big farewell party. Over the next few months, DUB will follow the ups and downs of the House 108 roommates.

Foppe, Wobke, Sam and Danette are sitting in the living room at number 108 in the red TWC building. To an outsider, every apartment in this building is pretty much the same, but for the students living at number 108, their home is special. “We’re very close,” says Wobke, who moved in last summer. “We have dinner together together, we organise theme nights, go out together and much more. Each person has their own thing going on, but, when we’re home, there’s always someone in the kitchen to hang out with. Most of us would prefer to stay here for a few more years, but alas.” That’s why they invited DUB to follow their journey. “It would be nice to capture this beautiful time for later.”

drinkominos - een zelfbedacht drinkspel op een thema avond Foto: Samuel de Weerd

Drinkominos, a drinking game the roommates of House 108 invented themselves. Photo: Huize 108

SSH called almost every day
In October 2023, residents were informed that the red building had to be renovated, so they would probably have to move out within a year. At the time, there was still a chance that the renovation would not proceed: SSH needed at least 70 percent of the residents to give their consent to go ahead. The student housing provider then came up with a plan to help residents with the move, but even then the initial response was not positive. Finally, in February 2024, SSH announced that they had obtained the necessary votes and that the renovation would be carried out.

Of the ten students living in House 108, only Sam and Foppe voted against the reno. “I just think they should have given us more time,” Sam says. “A year or so. I had been living here for only two months when the news came. After that, things were uncertain for quite a long time, we didn't know if the renovation would go ahead or not. The news came in the middle of an exam week to boot. A student housing organisation has to know what they are doing.”

“A voting evening might have been a good idea,” says Foppe, one of the roommates living in House 108 the longest. He's been there for three years. “Just use ballots. Then you know right away. But, of course, they needed those months to convince people. Everyone seemed to be against it at first. They called me and Sam almost every day at one point because we hadn’t agreed yet. Someone from SSH even made an appointment with us to talk about it, but then he didn’t show up. I think it’s because they had already reached 70 percent.”

“I was especially scared for my cat, Spencer, when I heard about the move,” adds Wobke. “I’ve been living here since last summer and was just happy to finally find him a good place. My roommates are not allergic, it’s a safe environment and it can live here legally.”

Tuindorp Huize 108: Spencer the cat. Foto: Samuel de Weerd

Spencer, the cat. Photo: Huize 108

Moving together
108 is one of the houses whose roommates would like to continue living together. SSH promised to help the residents that want to do so. Some can move on to the new Baobab complex together, a thought that makes Foppe’s eyes sparkle. “In that building, it's four people per apartment and you have a 40 square-meter living room, which is pretty spacious. Whenever one of us has friends over, our living room becomes pure chaos. This isn't even big enough for ten people to eat at the same time.” 

House 108 is already fantasising about moving to the Baobab complex. “Four of us will live in that apartment,” says Wobke. “I’ll probably go to one of the studios there, just like Renske. Then we can all visit each other as often as we want. And Spencer can come too!” House 108 is actually fortunate that everyone is happy with the idea: the other four roommates would rather live somewhere else. 

However, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the move. “SSH promised to announce the Baobab rents around now,” says Foppe. “It will probably cost more than here, we just wonder how much. You don’t have your own front door there either, so we wouldn’t qualify for housing benefits. Besides, it's not certain whether the complex will be completed by October 1.”

What if rental prices at Baobab are too high? 
They all fall silent for a moment. “Nobody has a plan B,” says Foppe, who has been living in House 108 for three years and would have liked to finish his studies there. “We’ll just wait and see. The people in the other two buildings are better off because they are allowed to return with their entire house. In theory, we can also go back, but we have to decide that now. I think it would be weird to go back after living somewhere else for a year.”

“There is no place in Utrecht like TWC,” says Wobke. “It’s cheap, you have a reasonably large room and plenty of fun, but it’s not chaotic like IBB, where there’s always mess and parties. Our house is quite clean. Everyone does their chores well, even without us handing out fines.”

Although they consider themselves very clean, they still call themselves "Shithouse 108". And there’s a good reason for that. Smiling, they point to a tile painted with that badge of honour on the windowsill. “A roommate shat in the shower during one of our house parties,” Wobke recollects with a grin. The housemate in question then went on to sleep with someone. If regular house parties get out of hand like this, one can expect a madhouse in the week preceding the move as all the rooms will be empty. “We’ve already planned a final party,” says Foppe.

Tuindorp Huize 108: kakhuis. Foto: Samuel de Weerd

The tile. Photo: Huize 108

Eating and exercising together
Aside from the many parties, they also do other things together such as themed evenings where two housemates are given the task of coming up with games. They also often dine together. Today it’s Sam’s turn to cook. She’s making a Japanese specialty: gyozas, dumplings with a spicy vegetable filling. Unfortunately, she’s forgotten that Wobke is allergic to spring onions but she doesn’t mind ordering pizza.

Most of the residents of number 108 are sporty, so they sometimes go to the gym or for a run together. On the day of the interview, Foppe and Sam participated together in the Zandvoort Circuit Run, a four-kilometre running race. They both finished well under 21 minutes. “Danette also contributed to that, because she came along to encourage us,” says Foppe. 

Tuindorp Huize 108 Foppe en Sam: samen sporten. Foto: Samuel de Weerd

Foppe and Sam. Photo: Huize 108

And what’s on the agenda for Shithouse 108 shortly? “My first Flunkyball tournament!”, says Wobke, frowning. “My last one, too.” Want to know what the tournament was like? You’ll have to wait for the next article in this series!

Tuindorp Huize 108 Foto: Tara van den Broek

The roommates of House 108. Photo: Tara van den Broek