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Terenja van Dijk



I live in a monument

Project on inhabitants and social housing of Conforta, Arena, and Unitas in Deurne [2001]

Commissioned by Amsab, Institute for Social History

Direction and production of video. Project consultant.

The project I live in a monument attempted to make the inhabitants aware of the historical importance of the environment in which they lived, and the ideas behind it.

Conforta, Arena, and Unitas are old, working-class neighborhoods in Antwerp and Deurne with a special historical and architectural character. The Conforta homes in Conforta and Kronenburg are like historical monuments: the first homes sold to laborers. The Unitas quarter – protected since 1982 – was designed as a garden community, and Arena – designed by Renaat Braem – as a modernist paradigm of social housing. The project was not only an investigation into the history and architecture of the various quarters – the inhabitants were also intensely involved for months in conversations and activities. The project also attempted to reinforce social relations in the neighborhoods involved.


The project resulted in a journal that was distributed to each inhabitant and an exhibition with photos, documents, and oral histories in the banqueting hall of the local high school. In a salon set up in the lower part of the banqueting hall, visitors were able to view family photos and the video featuring personal accounts from inhabitants at home as well as impressions of the neighbourhood.

Contains photography by Lieve Cosijns.


For the film, four inhabitants were found who were prepared to appear before the camera and who were also good storytellers. Each lived in a place that was representative for the neighborhood. By filming them at home, it was not only possible to record their stories, but also their living situations. A brass band paraded along a pre-planned route in order to connect the neighborhoods, the inhabitants, and their homes with each other.

At the right, a montage of two fragments from the film, featuring the Deurne Brass Band and Maria De Roeck in the Arenwijk, designed by architect Renaat Braem.

Exhibition concept and production
  • Martine Vermandere, AMSAB
  • Lieve Cosyns
  • Terenja van Dijk
Direction and production
  • Terenja van Dijk
Camera and sound
  • Jess De Gruyter
  • Terenja van Dijk and Jess De Gruyter
  • Rob van der Wildt
  • De Deurnse fanfare
  • 30 min
  • AMSAB, Project for Contemporary Popular Culture, King Boudewijn Foundation, in cooperation with the Folk Museum Deurne and Tell.the.City!, Antwerp.
  • Spin-off of the project is a DVD of the film, eyewitness accounts, and visual material from the neighborhoods, which the community of Deurne (80,000 inhabitants) gives to new residents.