Pretty in pink? Dutch owners of monumental buildings protest by illegally painting them over

The monumental farms are illegally painted pink as a 'cry for help' by the desperate owners. Image: screenshots RTV Noord

A curious sight in the north of the Netherlands where desperate monumental building owners took matters into their own in hands, quite literally. A fortnight ago, the owners of a listed farmhouse in Drieborg painted their property pink, this week the same was done at another listed farmhouse in Eenrum. Are we seeing a new trend emerge?

The owners have a similar story: both farms are covered in cracks and have prolapsed. According to the owners, the prolapsing of the centuries-old buildings is caused by nearby gas extraction. A controversial topic in the northern province of Groningen, as it causes earthquakes in the surrounding area, resulting in a lot of damage. However, since the farms sit outside the official earthquake zone, they are not entitled to damage compensation, Dutch heritage news platform Erfgoedstem reported.

Nor do the owners themselves have money to refurbish the monuments. That is why the owners went around asking various institutes, concerned with buildings or heritage in the region. But each time they got the same response: the organisation are very sorry for the owners but ultimately can’t do anything about the situation.

Heavy damages put the listed farms, and their owners, in peril. Image: Screenshots RTV Noord

It would cost at least one and a half million euros to refurbish the farmhouse and its foundation. The owners are so desperate that they even consider the demolition of their beautiful monumental houses as an option. Of course, that is not allowed because the farms are national monuments. So what now?

Cry for help

Although it is not allowed, painting the facade of their monumental farms pink is the last cry for help by the owners. “We hope this will attract attention, and there will be movement on the issue”, one of the owners told local news platform RTV Noord. “We are also calling on other people with damage to paint something on their house pink,” concludes one of the owners. “That way you can make it clear that it looks good on the outside, but there is a lot of damage inside.”

Owner Annemarie is calling upon others to paint their damaged houses pink as well. Image: screenshot RTV Noord.

It certainly does have an immediate impact: in the landscape, the pink façades are an unmissable statement, generating a lot of media attention for the two monumental farms in the Netherlands. But whether that will ultimately lead to these farms being saved remains to be seen.

Is painting the facade pink a good way to draw attention to monuments in need? It if seems to work for the two farmhouses in Groningen… then this might become the start of a new trend and more pink facades will soon pop up in the Netherlands. And maybe the rest of Europe will follow.