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"Find optimism in the inevitable" - Rem Koolhaas.
The Importance of Being Impermanent: Developing a new city-making strategy
The economic crunch has crippled the architecture and planning sector. In the Netherlands, where both architecture and planning were somewhat considered a national paragon, the institutional and financial support has been reduced to a bare minimum: the big investors- the city government and the housing corporations- are running out of their reserves, and planning as a political factor has been diminishing on all government levels. The crisis is freezing cities, and there is a fear that planning will freeze within them.
However, new opportunities have risen for smaller investors. Architecture and planning offices are exploiting their knowledge of the city and creative ideas to propel institutions such as the housing associations to rethink their use of space and make it more adaptable to the present situation. This entails the establishment of a stronger connection between sectors with financial means and investment, and urban development. To succeed in this, vacated spaces need to be made flexible to cater to different needs at different time intervals.
In Rotterdam, vacant properties have been made cheaper by the housing associations to accommodate- for short-term -start-ups with seed capital, small-scale industries and other activities with growth potential. This in the meantime initiative has proven itself a win-win situation for both the property owners and the tenants. It creates a place for the small-scale economy to run and puts planning and architecture back in the limelight. Decaying neighbourhoods become attractive again, due to their transient attributes.
Seeing the potential of this type of initiatives, more institutions and sectors are seeking to partner with creative developers. There is a need to transform the idea of impermanence into a city-making strategy. This is a chance to turn a concept, such as Rem Koolhaas’s Generic City into a reality.
The workshop programme
The workshop will focus on two neighbourhoods near central Rotterdam - the Oude Westen and the Zomerhofkwartier (ZoHo). A diverse, vibrant neighbourhood with plenty of social housing, the Oude Westen once had a tarnished reputation of being shabby and unsafe. The housing associations (Woonstad) continue to invest in the neighbourhood, but there is a need to generate a new kind of interest that will bring the revitalization of the Oude Westen to the next level.
ZoHo (Stipo, Havensteder), a pioneer of the in the meantime movement, is shaping into the makers district of Rotterdam; this identity needs to be supported by an effective planning (including branding and investment) strategy so as to make ZoHo, and the initiative, more sustainable.
The participants will split in two groups, one focusing on the Oude Westen and the other on ZoHo. Each of the groups will be asked, over an intense four-day period, to develop scenarios for the re-use of vacant spaces, ideas on how to link interested parties, and strategies for connecting the neighbourhood to the inner city. The resulting analysis and advice for the two neighbourhoods will be presented at the IFHP International Housing Conference in The Hague, on the final day of the workshop.
The overall goal of the workshop is to transform the concept of impermanence into a city-making strategy. The guiding questions for the workshop are:
- How do the neighbourhoods use their assets to connect to the city?
- Who are the different stakeholders/key players in establishing a connection to the city?
- What are the barriers to further development?
- What are the missing networks?
- How can new links be created and strengthened?
- How can we ensure the sustainability of this network?
The participants are expected to cover their travel and lodging, as well as any additional expenses during their stay in Rotterdam. There is a possibility to arrange accommodation at a student hostel in ZoHo for a number of participants at an affordable price. Please indicate in your application whether this is an option for you.
Deadline for Application
>> January 28th 2014
Applications should include a motivation statement and a short CV, and be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Successful applicants will be informed by January 30th 2014.
For further information please contact
Woonstad, STIPO, Havensteder, City of Rotterdam.