urbanus vulgaris

urban life & culture / ideas & insights / innovation & development

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The hisory of (social) housing policies in the Netherlands

by jiookrednav



‘Allen die zich practisch met deze tak van maatschappelijke hervorming bezig houden, hebben de ervaring opgedaan dat in menig arbeidersgezin een volslagen ommekeer ten goede plaats heeft, wanneer het uit een krot in eene gezonde woning wordt overgeplaatst.’ H.L. Drucker in De Gids, 1898




Reagan’s Challenger Speech Analysed.

by jiookrednav

Amazing documentary:



De omgekeerde wereld

by jiookrednav

Saskia Sassen: “The city is supposedly a space for people. Today you get the impression, it’s a space for buildings.”

by jiookrednav

This is what she explains in a short video-interview on the website of Die Zeit.

In response to the previous article on our blog, an alternative view on cities and urban development in general. :-)

The key succes-factors of Urban Development according to Riek Bakker, supervisor Kop van Zuid

by jiookrednav

Everybody who is involved in this work, should be committed, should want something and have the energy to do it. A normal person does his work with 100 % effort, but if you’re in this line of work, you should be ready to give 500 %. And that’s just a fact. Otherwise you won’t make it. 

2. Allies.
You need allies, you’ll have to fight sometimes and will have to do the most awful things -at least you seem to think so, that’s how you feel, someone else could feel differently about it- you need to be brave, you’ll have to go against existing opinions, you’ll have to speak in public… a lot of things you need to do, that are not necessarily part of your character, but that you think is necessary, because you think things will have to get done. Then, every once in a while, you’ll need people that you can pass by spontaneously in the evening or who you can call early in the morning, without them saying “Are you crazy?” and who you can trust and can help you in difficult moments. so, HELP.

If a project gets stuck, it often has to do with people who don’t grant you the projectThat happened to me in Rotterdam, I was there in the urban planning and development department and the bosses we’re tired of me. They didn’t want me to hire external planning offices anymore, they told me: Do it with the planning department. That was impossible, because we needed to do something new (with the Kop van Zuid ed.) and those people were used to work in a certain way. They cut off the money and the project was DEAD. What to do? I went to a good friend, the then director of the Port Authority Henk Molenaar. He was always in his office, at night as well, so you could always go there. I told him what happened and then he really helped me tremendously. He asked me, don’t you work for the the Port Authority as well? Then you can also send me bills, right?

So I left with a little skip and thought, that’ll work! So I had an ally there. And what turned out to be the fact? He was born and grew up on the South bank of the river (Where the Kop van Zuid is built ed.). So he empathized with the project. Those are the kind of people you’ll need, otherwise you won’t make it.

3. Continuity
Continuity of the project, continuity of what you started, continuity of the things you achieve and you’ve got the first pile in the ground, then you have to make you sure, that the people around you, grant you and your successors. You have to make sure that the entire undertaking has continuity. There are people who put their money in, there are people who put their effort and energy in, there are people who put their professional knowledge into it, people are working on it in numerous different ways, they put something aside, they jumped over their boundaries, they have their trust in it… if their are authorities that say: now we have this political constellation and we’re not doing it anymore, then that could happen, but they should know, that they are killing certain things off and the least thing that they will have to do, is explain for weeks on end, how they can assure continuity.

The continuity of the project on the Kop van Zuid, in the first place depends on the fact that it is a very Rotterdam-style project. There are a lot of people who have said: The biggest, most impressing etc. No, it is a typical Rotterdam-style project. The bigness, the impressiveness is part of the harbour of Rotterdam.

In Rotterdam, there was a president of the Chamber of Commerce, mr. Van de Mandele, who said: Guys, this river is not deep enough, ships are getting bigger and they won’t be able to go in and out in the future. We need to dig out the river – that was an undertaking! He called that person, that person and that person and they got it done. So they people in Rotterdam are used to it, they are used to think in that way, it’s part of the tradition. So what we are still doing is realising a Rotterdam-style plan. You need the empathy of the Rotterdammer himself! So also word of mouth, also the general public were involved by us from day one. If they wouldn’t have agreed with the project…..

That is something else than acceptance or consensus (In Dutch “Draagvlak” ed.) The word consensus is brave word for scared politicians. And consultants.

The  challenge in urban development nowadays is to find the initiator. 
(…) It starts with, what we think is important and why. But also define what you think is not important. (…) It starts with bringing the right people together and that those initiatives are accepted by different administrative levels and that they join each other and quit playing the game “I don’t want to do anything, because I don’t have any money”, but that they play the game how can we solve this problem, even though we don’t have money, how can we be creative and how can we come to agreements and how can we make sure that one does this and the other does that and the other maybe does that as well? And then you can actually solve a lot of problems. (…)

I don’t care who starts, but someone has to start it! For that, you need to create a sense of urgency. Nowadays, it’s about agenda-setting and that is how we get back to energy and to granting each other. (…)


Ken Livingstone, Fmr. Mayor of London: “How can you keep London viable for ordinary people?”

by jiookrednav

“For this you need two vital things: good transport & affordable houses.”

“The former Mayor of London is the figurehead of Labour’s equality ideal. He is angry about the fact that his city is becoming increasingly unaffordable for large groups of people and is falling in the hands of private companies. He travels Greater London from left to right with the Jubilee Line. From his simple residential neighbourhood Brent, through the financial heart of Canary Wharf, to the revitalization areas of Eastern London. An outspoken guide in a rapidly growing metropolis.”

150216_Ken Livingstone_Fmr Mayor of London

Can anyone imagine not using the legacy of the Olympic Games? One of Ken Livingstone most important decisions was the bid for the Olympics and the successive use of the area for inner-city development. He also shows the importance of design in social housing. In a mixed block with 25% social housing the affluent enter through the front door, the social housing residents live on floors 6 to 15 and enter through a dark alley…

The documentary can be found here.

Cultivating complexity

by gailiute

Beautifully written and worth reading:

“We like to think of cities as human artifacts, but they behave like autonomous organisms, subject to growth and decay, health and renewal, that no single power is in control of. For that reason we rightly call them complex and self regulating entities. We should therefore seek to study them the way natural phenomena are studied. Laws of nature reveal themselves by patterns of change and gradual transformation. A similar approach yields knowledge about properties that are shared by all urban fabrics, large or small, historic or contemporary. Changes in an urban environment are caused by human agents in control of specific parts of it. To study this we do not need to know the agent’s identity, nor its intentions, hopes, and priorities, other than what we can deduct from transformations that we observe. The constants that govern the built environment can be learned by patient and detached observation, more or less in the way a person can learn the rules of the chess game by observing the movement of the pieces on the board. The chess game observer deducts two things: ” (J. Habraken, 2013)

Continue reading.

Der Himmel über Berlin, Wings of Desire

by jiookrednav

Alejandro Aravena: My architectural philosophy? Bring the community into the process

by vytasvulgaris

Social-cultural maps

by vytasvulgaris

“Peoplemaps is a project designed to reveal the underlying social connections, groups, and communities within a specific geographical region. The maps we produce, however, are not geographical — rather, they describe the relative orientation of communities in a city or region. Each dot represents a person (or user account), each line represents a relationship, and eachcolor group represents a community of interest. Communities at opposite ends of a map have the least in common. The layout of the map is determined by relationships — they act like springs, bringing people closer together. By arranging the maps in this way, we can determine how people choose to sort themselves, and study the patterns in human arrangement that arise between different cities — and we can also see patterns like segregation and other unhealthy patterns of arrangement.”


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