IHS history

Foundation of the Bouwcentrum

As part of the post-World War II reconstruction of the Netherlands, a building centre of excellence called Bouwcentrum was founded in Rotterdam, in 1948. Its primary mission was to develop methodologies and technologies to foster fast production of affordable and adequate housing and generate innovative approaches of addressing severe housing shortage experienced in the Netherlands.

The birth of IHS is associated with the foundation of the Bouwcentrum and the reconstruction of Rotterdam, a city that was heavily destroyed during the WWII bombardments. In response to an increasing international demand for the experiences of the Bouwcentrum, an international training wing was established in 1958 to provide international education and transfer knowledge and expertise to professionals from developing countries, seeking solutions in housing and construction sectors. This was called the Bouwcentrum International Education-BIE. BIE became independent in the ‘70s and in 1982, it was transformed into Institute for Housing Studies – IHS. In the beginning of the ‘90s, IHS changed its name into Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies. 

Joining Erasmus University

In the early 2000s, IHS joined the EUR’s Woudestein campus, which came in line with the Dutch governmental policy of stimulating the collaboration between international education institutions like IHS and universities of the Netherlands. That same year, an organizational reform started at IHS, which marked the first step towards integration with Erasmus University Rotterdam. This status was formalised in 2004 and since then, IHS is officially a part of Erasmus University Rotterdam. 

A centre of excellence

In 2007, IHS received the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour award, for leading the way as a global centre of excellence and knowledge through its high-quality teaching programmes in housing, urban management and urban environmental management and planning. This award is granted every year on World Habitat Day, a day established by the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness about the state of human settlements.

"This is the most prestigious award given by the United Nations in recognition of work carried out in the field of human settlements development." (UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka)

Making cities work

In 2008, humankind reached a historic milestone: more than half of the world’s population was living in urban areas. IHS recognizes the global impact of cities, as well as the importance of sustainable development, which is why our research, educational programmes and advisory services provide valuable assistance in tackling the multi-faceted challenge of urbanization. In over 55 years of activity, more than 8,500 professionals from 140 countries have received training at IHS. The IHS alumni are active urban experts, ranging from architects, social scientists, economists, to public administration workers, civil servants, and government officials.