Rotterdam Cultural Histories #13: The Temporary Autonomous Bureau is a space for researching and discussing interpretations of autonomy in cultural or social projects within Rotterdam. We are inhabitants of the Poortgebouw, a historic residential community located next to the Maas River, and students from the Experimental Publishing Master Programme at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. We have converted a space at TENT into a temporary office. Following two projects from 2017 - the database 'The Autonomous Archive' and the publication 'A Bed, A Chair and A Table' - we shall use this space to carry on researching the Poortgebouw's history.

The Poortgebouw is a 37-year-old organisation that hosts cultural activities, as well as a community of 30 people. Over the years it has offered space for self-organised events and projects, provided residencies for guests, artists and musicians, and afforded living and work spaces for different generations of people from all over the world. The building was first squatted in 1980 and attained legal status four years later, which was made possible through renovating the building and making it habitable. The commitment of its first residents enabled the founding of the Poortgebouw Association.

During this presentation's three-month timeframe, we shall use this space to organise a series of events that will map the independent strategies of self-organisation in Rotterdam. At the same time, the public has access to the fragmented Poortgebouw archive. The Temporary Autonomous Bureau serves as meeting point where experiences with how to navigate between autonomy and institutionalisation can be shared.

How can independent organisations maintain agency in a city where the institutionalisation of cultural and residential spaces is the norm?

Is it possible to establish sustainable, non- hierarchical, socio-cultural projects through collaborative, bottom-up practices?

Can a degree of openness and autonomy be maintained in the management of a self-organised social and cultural project?

With thanks to past and present Poortgebouw occupants and all the people who have supported it over the years.

Rotterdam Cultural Histories is a collaborative project between TENT and Witte de With that explores our common roots in Rotterdam and articulates meeting points between both of our programmes.