In the first round of the Studio for Unsolicited Architecture, Temp.architecture and BBN Adviseurs devised a model for district development that proceeds from an initial scenario, as opposed to the standard, inflexible method aimed at a fixed outcome.
Spatial development in the Netherlands has come to an impasse. The symptoms: a huge quantity of undeveloped building land and vacant real estate. This disuse is often caused by the standard development models, which cannot deal with the unpredictability of the current property world. The stranded development models spring from the modern ideology of the ‘makeable society’ and are organised according the realisation of a pre-formulated ultimate goal. These are outcome models.
Typical of these models is that an integral outcome is established in advance. During the realisation and operational period this outcome cannot be altered. Examples of outcome models are the residential districts of post-war reconstruction from the 1950s and the VINEX residential districts of the 1990s. Here, based on the prevailing insights, aspects such as the purpose (zoning), land values and footprints were fixed in such a way that even now they are well-nigh immutable.
A new development model
In order to be able to re-float the spatial development of the Netherlands there is a need for an innovative model for district development that makes it possible to take advantage of evolving, unpredictable circumstances. Temp.architecture and BBN Adviseurs therefore developed the model of an open-ended planning. Rather than striving after a predetermined outcome, this model proceeds from an initial situation and presents a bandwidth of development possibilities. This initial scenario makes binding pronouncements about the near future, but offers the perspective of various longer-term possibilities. Based on the awareness that the future cannot be predicted, the continuous interaction between the specification and re-evaluation of the development potential is central to the proposed model.
Room for participation
Typical of fixed-outcome planning is that the outcome is formulated by a limited team of professionals in a top-down process; palimpsest planning allows for the bottom-up influence of end users. Various participants jointly decide the initial scenario on an equal footing. Re-evaluation moments then provide the fine-tuning or modification of this scenario. This calls for continuous participation. The persistent influence of end users is a guarantee for high standard of liveability throughout the process and greater harmony between demand and supply. Professionals serve as stewards of the long-term perspectives.
Zeeburgereiland as a test bed
In order to illustrate how palimpsestic planning works, Temp.architecture conducted a study into the development of the Sluisbuurt neighbourhood on Amsterdam’s Zeeburgereiland peninsula. Based on the doctrine of fixed-outcome planning, Amsterdam City Council recently committed itself to establishing a high residential density here (set out in its Structural Vision: Amsterdam 2040). Costly procedures were involved in the compulsory purchase of land in advance of this new development, but the economic crisis means the city council is no longer in a position to make major preparatory investments, which is necessary to be able to achieve the agreed high density.
However, if the city council wants the area to be used then it must opt for a radically different approach. No longer does the demand for space come from the familiar development partners, but from end users: entrepreneurs, residents, people with an actual need for affordable housing and workplaces. ‘Urban Pioneers’ is the label the designers have given to the parties that require space.
A new toolkit
Working in conjunction with a team of experts in financial, legal, procedural and spatial domains, Temp.architecture and BBN Adviseurs are assisting these Urban Pioneers with the acquisition and layout of the space. This methodology requires a new toolkit.
Procedural: The division of roles between the end users and the professional planners differs from that for traditional development methods.
Financial: The team has devised a calculation model with which Urban Pioneers can test their initiatives for themselves and can shop for layout elements from the online store. An initiative is assessed financially, from the viewpoint of the Urban Pioneer as well as with regard to the project’s overall financial situation. This is a means of weighing up several interests.
Legal: Open-ended planning means there is only short-term certainty. How can a new balance be struck, whereby even smaller investments lead to legal certainty and a pleasant quality of life for all those involved?
Spatial: The designers involved must be able to shift gear quickly and elucidate the spatial implications of different choices, for which the team has elaborated three models.
Temp.architecture (Tom Bergevoet and Maarten van Tuijl) and BBN Adviseurs (Paul Jorna)
Download the bid book (PDF, 10MB, in Dutch) of the project.
This project was developed during the Studio for Unsolicited Architecture, supported by the NAI, the Fonds BKVB (the current Mondriaan Fund) and the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.
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