is larger than our own profession and emanates from the systematics of societal development.
Practice goes beyond the object, symbolising order and stability. Additionally to the authorship of the built architecture, design reveals processes of governance, financing and organisational logic. In times of critical transition architecture can beneficially influence public challenges.
img. Rotterdam, a collage without Photoshop
Make my day
When one is staring in the abyss, stuck in capslock, do not move towards the light, but check the Preiser website and build your dreams in the next futile model. Never give in.
Het park als buffer
The Alameda de Hercules, Sevill, ES
Het in 1574 aangelegd park La Alemeda was voorheen een aftakking van de rivier Guadalquivir. Na de indamming bleef het gebied tot de tweede helft van de twintigste eeuw een moerassig gebied, dat vaak overstroomde.
At the end of a gilded age of mass design and production the romantic singular is sized up by the multiplicity of roles and manifestations. The artistic can move outside norms. The critic can provoke discourse. The activist begin informal implementation to allow local outcomes to help formalise governance. Equipped with big data an analyst can provide new positivistic tools. Architecture too can remove to progress.
By acknowledging experience as a transient apprehension, consequential one needs to continuously work on collecting and incorporating principles and methods. Understanding is gained through self-initiated preparing research. The curiosity in current and undercurrent systems benefits the involvement in offered and selected assignments. Working mentality is not aimed at self fulfilling logics, honest answers challenge the question. And as answers are not necessarily physical architecture, professional boundaries are tested. Through collaboration with municipalities, universities and the building industry Studio Stad can venture outside its territory of expertise. Progressive insight allows our heterogenous practice the transformation from a (social) gadfly to a formal contributor.
1 dm2 / h
> Average building cost of a house in the Netherlands in May 2012 is €259 / m3;
> Average an architect accepts an honorarium of 7-10% of those costs, which optimistically leads to €18,13 / m3;
> The minimum wage in the Netherlands 2012 is €1.412,00 per month or €64,92 per day with an average of 21,75 workdays a month;
> A dutch architect has to produce 3,58m3 of building a day or 1,38m2 (building regulations: minimum ceiling height 2,6m) to earn the minimum wage;
> With approx. 10% design time in a building process, architects are left with a qoutum of 14dm2 of design per day = 14 hours;
>> financial sustainable design-production is 1 dm2 per hour
Whether we humans agreed on it or fought over it, the moment we stopped hunting, build a plough to start farming, we declared this earth ours. If we are to invest time in the soil and grow crops, wouldn’t it be a crime, if others would literally reap the fruits of our labour? We’ve emancipated from nature, become less dependent on its whims. We learn, gain experience and we’ve become proficient. We harvest more than needed for household-use. We prosper. We plan our future and cultivate our minds. But we humans as individuals remain frail. As a collective we can protect ourselves behind city walls and assure continuity of our progress. Within these boundaries we condemn the use of violence and encourage the use of the voice of inhabitants. With a social contract, we humans legitimate a level of authority of a state over the individual and surrender some of our freedoms, in exchange for the protection of the remaining rights and share in the distribution of virtue generated by public and private resources. We achieved it with the welfare state.
Jean Jacques Rousseau was born too late. If he could, he would have probably stopped the first person, who declared a piece of land his property. He acknowledges the act of appropriation as the foundation of civic society, but regrets the consequence, namely the birth of economy. The value of land was considered by the physiocrats as primary guarantor of wealth. Adam Smith put it next to the resources labour and capital to accumulate profit. Soil as a material is closely linked to the development of industries, yet the value within the urban context is defined by three criteria only: location, location, location.
Rotterdam 1940, the city was bombed and the historical center with all its facilities and houses were destroyed. With consideration to the personal drama and hardship, it led to a tabula rasa in the heart of the city. Instead of a trauma the void turned into a progressive psychosis. The second largest city of the Netherlands seized the opportunity to reconstruct and model a new concept of society through urbanism. The whole area within the Fire Boundary was expropriated to relieve it from administrative delay. Previous ownership was documented in the Grootboek.
With the restitution previous owners could buy back land to rebuild their stores and offices. Tenants had no right to restitution and were completely dependent on large-scale housing projects. In reality only commercial developers had the financial means to invest in new buildings. Regular shopkeepers couldn’t afford to pay for a new store let alone extra levels for housing. In addition the central axis the Hoogstraat being one of the main shopping streets before the bombing had the highest rates. The property was too expensive to return to.
The large-scale sale of building lots in the centre of Rotterdam to investment companies in the 1950’s, has a decisive influence on todays contradiction between property versus ownership. However the current issues of vacancy caused by the detachment of investment companies to local affairs could not be foreseen. In that era Rotterdam was facing an entire different challenge: the high-speed reconstruction of its centre. The urban development coincided with the rapids of the Second Industrial Revolution and generated an industry of space production. The urban industry flourished and accommodated the construction of the welfare state.
Today society is cornered by a financial world, which has outgrown national borders becoming airborne in speculative bubbles. The exclusion of violence from our boundaries has been reversed. The power of voice is challenged by the violence of finance. On the one hand the global context allows companies to choose the lowest national taxation, on the other hand the ownership of land is still entitled to legal protection against private and public interference. The public still surrenders part of its freedom in favor of financial institutions, but in return these financial institutions are no longer burdened by social concern.
The Dutch Government has recently launched the urban agenda: Agenda Stad. Citizens and organisations nationwide are invited to envision new structures to sustain a future of the Dutch urban landscape. But before we think ahead, we need to question the fundamental structures, specifically: does the contemporary city fulfill common interests? How do we prevent inequality to be cemented into the future? ‘It’s the nasty crust of institutional interest that needs to be broken first’, signals architecture historian, professor Wouter Vanstiphout.
A city is the materialised organisation of society and therefor immobile, but the polis, the body of citizens is immaterial and therefore not bound by location. If an urban center could be mobile, monopolized urban property looses its economic power position, opening up the possibility of negotiation. In addition municipalities still own 75% of all building lots in the Netherlands, which still hold value as a strategic tool for planning. Signs of this urban disruption are found with the shift of focus towards peripheral new initiatives of urban revival.
Property as the financial engine of western society should come first on the Agenda Stad. A government should not just reach out to new city-makers, but also involve landlordism. It could organise public debates about social rules to discuss the terms of responsibility and ownership and reenact the voice over financial violence.
A new promise for stability based on democratic distribution of virtue can be made on the condition, that the design-assignment of future cities also requires the shaping of legislation and reorganisation of society in addition to the shaping of mass.
work in progress 2015