The Bloemkoolwijk - Networks and Cinematic Urbanism
The Bloemkoolwijk - Networks and Cinematic Urbanism
The suburban Bloemkoolwijk (23% of the Dutch housing supply, built from ’70-’85 as mono-functional housing areas for the white middle class) needs to be re-contextualized now that the traditional city of places, surrounded by suburbs, is changing into an urban field of flexible networks; forming a social and spatial archipelago.
These suburbs are deteriorating, individualizing and the social profile is citifying. How can this context generate a positive habitat and by what means may a strategy of re-contextualization be structured?
This Research Essay starts with the investigations of the present-day context of society in relation to usage of space and awareness on the spatial environment in regard to architecture. The concepts and theory which are formulated are placed in its historical context, to generate a contextual framework of methodology and form. Out of the past- and present theoretical context, contemporary spatial concepts and manifestations are elaborated. Finally, it is investigated how theory, concept and space may mutually strengthen one another and how these investigated notions may generate a new contextual framework wherein spatial design may reside.
Table of content
Present-day context - Networks and Islands
Historical framework and current forthcomings - Concept and Space
Concepts and theory in relation to contemporary architecture - Method and Structure
The response of architecture and a new methodology - Movement and time; Cinematography
All architecture exists within a contextual framework and reflects strongly the time and society in which it was conceived. This framework is flexible, it changes and new times ask for new views and approaches on architecture.
Emerging notions of complexity and a growing awareness on self-organizing systems have brought about an essential change in the perspective on the meaning of architecture and spatial design in relation to social connections and societal structures; from a rigid and arbitrary understanding, to a flexible one, shaped by flows of information, matter and people, one that is self-organizing at all levels by means of network
This new knowledge is paralleled by changes now occurring in architecture.
For these interconnected and complex network structures are manifesting themselves in physical reality. The structure of the city, traditionally with its functions centered, and surrounded by mono-functional living environments, is flattening; it is pushing functions and a diverse population to the periphery.
Out of the traditional cityscape arises a non-hierarchical flat urban field, strongly interconnected and void of a true centre. The formerly ‘peripheral’ suburban living environment undergoes vast changes in this process. In the Netherlands, this suburban environment consists for the greatest part of the urban form called the ‘Bloemkoolwijk’.
This urban form mainly consists of mass produced single-family housing. The Bloemkoolwijk was only realized from 1970 to 1985, but comprises for a massive 23% of the Dutch housing supply. The methods of urban planning, that shaped these highly present and influential ‘former’ suburbs, express very much the ideals and context of a specific period of time. However, the context and general dealing with space have changed rapidly over the years, and now, one of the Netherlands’ most extensively applied forms of urban planning is about to face a crucial phase in its existence.
What are these new network structures, what drives the change and what does it produce? Furthermore, what are the consequences for architecture, and for the spaces which are most affected? And lastly, how can these newly emerged notions of flexibility and network produce something qualitatively new in relation to architecture and the spatial environment?
Present-day context - Networks and Islands
New electronic and virtual network structures and advancing means of physical transport have caused an enormous shift in dealing with space and awareness regarding the physical environment. ‘All media, as being extensions of man, enhance speed in some way’ (McLuhan, 1994, p. 15)(1). Think of the speed of travel, with the car or airplane as being media for transport, but also commerce, communication, information, transmission, etc. General information is always directly accessible, communication has become instant and ever-present. Within this process of increasing and up-speeding interconnectivity, society has started to re-arrange itself from ‘a vertical, arbitrary and highly hierarchical body, to a horizontal society consisting of interconnected networks’ (Cauter, 2001, p.4)(2).
People are getting closer to the source of information and thus gain more control over the structuring and the adjustment or customization of their lives. People are more aware of who they are, or rather of how they present themselves, with whom they attain and maintain contact, what kind of work they do and even where they wish to live; increasingly so through digital media.
The resulting phenomenon, of the workings of these all-encompassing network structures on the urban environment, is called the ‘Network City’. ‘In everyday life, a city is constructed which consists of several cores, turning the traditional city with its central core of functions (high intensity of flows) and the surrounding housing environments (low intensity of flows) into a flat urban field, with equalized flows, from traditional centre to edge’ (Nio, 2001 p.5)(3). The main structuring spatial typology in the network city is neither public nor private, but rather the programmed or pragmatic collective space.
The term Network City is something of an addition to the underlying structuring concept of the Archipelago City. ‘The Archipelago City is the contemporary city that functions like the decentralized urban field; one that consists of multiple ‘Cities within the City’, whom together create a complex series of networks’ (Koolhaas, 2013 p.15)(4). Architects O. M. Ungers and R. Koolhaas introduced the term to theorize the outcome of a process wherein a city has formed itself into a structure that consists of individual areas and neighborhoods, all with their different lifestyle-based identities, but all embedded within the larger urban field. The structuring overall grid of the city kept these individual fluid elements in place. This emergence of networks means that the urban lifestyle is no longer linked to the city’s physical environment.
These increased mobility- and network structures allow people to travel from sports facilities, business districts, shopping districts, cultural destinations, etc., without necessarily leaving one’s own hereby constructed ‘island’, and therefore not having to interact with different social groups. Because the places people visit or frequent are for a large part the result of conscious choices, it can be said that space has become a product of consumption. Our collective lifestyle is constructed around the notion of consuming; territories that are part of our networks, which are oriented at consumption (shopping streets, ‘pavement’ cafés, malls), are the main structuring element of human activity in the contemporary urban field.
The collective activity of consumption is however not so much a binding element in regard to social relations. For we have moved from a society based on the mass, to one consisting of a dazzling amount of different niches; a capsular society (Nio, 2008, p.11)(5). Therefore, the fact is that people do actually live in a culturally and ethnically highly diversified overarching urban environment, but this diversity produces a whole consisting of plural ‘societies’ or domains, based upon lifestyle, culture or moral grounds. Therefore, paradoxically, the increase in scale (high speed interconnected networks of flows) is accompanied by a decrease in scale; ‘everyday movements are scaling down, to the scale of the urban district’ (Hajer, 2003, p.34)(6). The home has become the autonomous center from which all our networks are maintained; a situation of ‘home centeredness’.
The home is a hybrid space used not just as an accommodation, but also for recreation and work. ‘Consequently there is a growing need for flexible spaces and new typologies (with)in housing with an equally flexible layout that allows for telework, carrying out a professional practice, sub-letting, study and hobbies’ (Luijten, 2007, p.9)(7).
As described, the increasing speed of the modern world produces high-speed networks of transition and flow. The more these physical and informational speeds increase, the more immobile and capsular our behavior. This applies to capsulation in physical mobility (completely closed-off cars, planes, trains, etc.), but also in regard to social ‘hyper’ mobility; the more people are able to choose their social connections, the more is sought in social groups akin to the own. Those that consciously choose and arrange their social and spatial networks around them are actually cocooning within capsules and networks.
This consciousness in the dealing with space as being part of a lifestyle has in effect thoroughly changed the meaning of ‘place’. Traditionally, people identified themselves with their spatial and social territory; ‘the sense of identity is in itself political or relational, it is constructed through contact with others’ (Ballantyne, 2007, p.27)(8). When the identity is constructed with ‘input’, or relational concepts confined to-, or determined by, territorial grounds, the subject becomes rooted within a certain geographical area, or ‘place’.
‘Place’ used to be a static concept; it said something about culture, behaviour, norms, values, etc. But importantly, it also provided someone with a consistent frame of reference when it came to a view on the world. However, the notion of place in a contemporary way has become an unstable concept, rather than a fixed location; the ‘new’ sense of place has more to do with motion than with stability, dislocation than location, connectivity than autonomy. This changed perspective is the result of the current situation where people are constantly in contact with people existing outside of their direct physical environment and are permanently exposed to an enormous worldwide flow of information. Through for instance television and the Internet, formerly inaccessible information and ‘alien’ perspectives have become easily attainable.
This means that a person is no longer bound to a certain geographical territory in the construction of his identity and is therefore mentally and in effect physically less connected to his direct living environment.
People nowadays construct identity and a ‘sense of place’ within the non-static networkified communal sense; people are no longer tied down to a territory, but their ‘territory’ has become a network of physical and virtual spaces.
This lacking of the deriving of one’s identity from his direct living environment, for instance the neighborhood, has consequently caused the mental decline of identity and place altogether; society is increasingly
organized around flows of people, money, images, signs, and technologies, together constituting a new
spatial form that supersedes the traditional space of places. Places do not actually disappear, but their meaning is literally absorbed in global networks. ‘Their position becomes entirely subject to their relation to other networks, spaces and to their connection with the generic infrastructures that ensure their ever-wider sphere of involvement’ (Delalex, 2012, p.88)(9).
Although the static notion of ‘place’ is decreasingly applicable when it comes to the shaping of identity and the rating of geographical areas, it is not to say that the people no longer identify themselves with specific areas because they are no longer tied down to one.
Space can indeed still be significant as a means of giving shape to a community, lifestyle or identity.
New spaces where groups can develop their own lifestyle or where residents can once more become jointly involved in their residential environment through programmed collective spaces like a garden, a crèche, sports facilities, or a communal office space can very much still bring programmatic and territorial
enrichment and meaning to residential environments.
For ‘when a common property resource is present, collective interests and community concerns may provide a strong sustainable rationale rising above individual interests’ (Steelman, 2008, p.17)(10). In the network city, collective identity is rooted in pragmatic, programmed grounds or ‘islands’, formed by overlapping spaces of personal networks.
Historical framework and current forthcomings - Concept and Space
It is often stated about architecture that ‘the concept of space is not a space’; meaning that there is a distinction between space, something physical, and the knowledge of space, which is virtual. However, ‘paradoxically, architecture as an applied art form can in fact be both perceptual and physical, as it being the medium of conceptual thought’ (Tschumi, 1994, p.34)(11). So how can these newly emerged concepts or theories on networkification, place, movement and lifestyles be traced back to the physical environment? And how can these possibly be treated as a tool in the stimulation and shaping of the actual spaces that allow for these concepts to physically manifest themselves?
To understand how these concepts may affect the existing build spatial environment, it is necessary to get to grips with the general structure of the traditional model of the city. There is a long and thorough tradition of highly structured urban planning in the Netherlands. The mutual exchange between architecture, economy, politics and society has always been highly present. The dominant foundation for modern-day urban planning has been laid in the 20th century; a period characterized by high urbanization and severe political, ideological and economical changes. These contextual factors have produced vastly differentiating urban landscapes.
The post-war period from 1945 to 1955 stands for the first period of reconstruction.
During this period, modernist (A) ideals in both architecture and urban planning slowly started to become predominant. This is due to a series of factors. In 1940, there were 2,1 million houses in the Netherlands, from which a large amount was destroyed during the war and many were insufficient to modern standards, leading to a direct deficit of a quarter of a million houses, with a rapidly expanding and urbanizing population, this deficit grew almost exponentially in the
following thirty years.
A relatively small labour force and a poor economic situation were compensated by the prefabrication of standard housing elements and systemized building, which offered a great solution for generating vast quantities of houses to live up to the housing demand. Modernist guidelines about natural light, air and spaciousness, as opposite to the dark, polluted and dense old city centers, found their way into prefab housing, organized in geometric, strictly zoned urban planning.
The post-war ideological drive was very strongly present in the modernistic urban form; the idea was that uniform housing for all, only public space between housing blocks, strict function zoning and mobility would stimulate democracy and generate positive, equal, social and rational people. Furthermore, the ‘Tabula Rasa’-basis, or ‘to build without spatial context’, was key in the modernist urban planning. Large urban expansions, dominated by blocks of multi-layered apartment buildings and rigorous traffic networks dominate the urban image. These modernist ideals peaked in architecture and urban planning in the period from 1955 to 1970. What emerged out of these homogenous urban plans however, were ‘increased individualism, a more commoditized human existence, the loss of a sense of place, the lacking of human scale and the absence of vibrant urban life’ (Ubink, van der Steeg, 2011, p.16)(12). This led to a general low rating of these modernist urban areas.
Already in the 1970’s, when people could afford a larger (unattached) house, preferably with a private garden (the embodiment of welfare), etc., they moved ‘en masse’ to the newly built Bloemkoolwijken. These well-faring ‘modernist-emigrants’ were replaced by people with lower income- and education levels from the more expensive inner cities, from the countryside and by foreign immigrants. The modernist planning fell victim to a negative spiral in the changing times; with increasing crime-rates, social segregation, deteriorating houses and neglected public spaces in urban expansions built according to the modernist principles.
The period from 1970 to 1985 represents a strong counter-reaction to the modernist architecture and urban planning-ideals and spawned an urban planning system quite unique to the Netherlands; the ‘Bloemkoolwijk’ (B). Housing neighborhoods had to become pluriform, small-scaled, personal, diverse, non car-orientated and suburban. ‘It was hoped that the urban form would stimulate community building, playfulness and pro-activeness in the public domain’ (Ubink, van der Steeg, 2011, p.21)(13).
The main urban structure was determined by a ring road, from which smaller roads branched off, eventually leading to an inner court. Urban planners designed the main road and determined the global zoning, but various different architects planned all of the remaining individual districts. Serial vision acted as a key concept in the forming of the Bloemkoolwijk. Serial Vision is based upon the idea of the picturesque in urban design, it evolves around the idea of looking at the spatial environment as a sequence of pictures, or ‘visions’ in which buildings and objects form spatial compositions. ‘Movement hereby generates a cinematographic experience of space’ (Cullen, 1961, p.4)(14).
Housing and urban planning in the period from 1985 to roughly 1995 again moved away from the collective ensemble towards a rationalized model of individualization, identity and privatization. However on a smaller scale, the ‘production’ was ever marked by prefabricated building elements. From 1993 to 2005, VINEX (C) emerged as the dominant planning form, marked by neoliberal ‘ideals’ of stimulating individual expression.
These architectural practices that shaped our world from roughly 1945 to 2005, advocated distinct urban forms; from uniform housing superimposed on large-scaled public spaces, to a small-scaled community-based planning and lastly the rational, more individualistic structure. These practices reflect very strongly the ideological and political climate in which they were developed. And every time a new building surge driven by updated or reactionary ideals was spread across the Netherlands, the previous one got outdated.
This means for instance that when the Bloemkoolwijk was introduced, the (high) middle class, or generally the people who could afford it, moved out to these newly built areas, leaving the functionalist-built areas for the lower educated and poorer population and social decline.
Now, again this process is crystallizing in the deterioration process of the Bloemkoolwijk; ‘physical downfall, dropping house prices, declining income- and education levels are turning into everyday reality’ (Ubink, van der Steeg, 2011, p.79)(15). These vast, post war mass-produced, non-authentic living environments that engulf the old city centers have generally lost their appeal in a society obsessed by the image.
By being already void of a location-specific history, their inherent sense of anonymity and the lack of the means of acting as a ‘place’, both in the traditional and current sense of the word, fuel their spatial and social deterioration.
However, a strong positive aspect occurs in this process, because now that a poorer, lower educated and multi-ethnic population is starting to move into the formerly mono-functional Bloemkoolwijk, completely in the ‘spirit’ of the Zeitgeist, a vast array of small-scaled businesses and functions is emerging, which generates a new flexible network-based informal economy. In 10 years time, ‘at least 5% of the housing will make place for, or be combined with, businesses, a larger potential may evolve, be it stimulated properly’ (Wagenaar, 2008, p.13)(16). The informal is the societal core in the post-crisis age (Avermaete, 2012, p.5)(17). However, the
current private- and public space of the Bloemkoolwijk is generally highly rigid and allows for little possibility for this potential to manifest itself, but with proper structure, steering and stimulation, the informal economy may answer to the need of, and responds to, the current emergence of small-scaled network structures.
The actual form of the Bloemkoolwijk, as being essentially a collection of currently non-functional and non-appropriable inner courts, may with location-specific steering, intervention and stimulation act as the main tool in the creation of a contemporary network-based urban landscape.
To construct such a form of urbanity that responds on multiple levels to the societal context, specific issues that are inherent to the urban form need to be appointed.
For of yet, the space doesn’t act as a responsive framework to societal changes; it lacks any kind of flexibility, spatial coherence, social control, the possibility of social networkification, for civic appropriation of space, the sharing of resources and the possibility for the emergence of the contemporary form of placemaking; program.
By what kind of structuring process may these notions of the re-contextualization strategy find their way into the space of the Bloemkoolwijk?
Concepts and theory in relation to contemporary architecture - Method and Structure
It has now been shown that the times have drastically changed our perception and usage of space through the emergence of network structures; cities are flattening, society is becoming a self-organizing multitude based on flows, people have started to live on social islands and territorial ‘place’ is fading. But, regarding also the relentless movement of the democratization of the spatial environment through self-organizing systems, what could the role of the architect be in this complex contextual framework?
Without superimposing on living environments personal or subjective and dogmatic ideals and thoughts on aesthetics, one may still be able to design the conditions that will make it possible for this non-hierarchical, non-traditional society to arise. Architecture is no longer so much about the conditions of design, but about the design of conditions, conditions that will dislocate the most traditional and regressive aspects of our society and simultaneously reorganize these elements in the most liberating way; ‘where our experience becomes the experience of events organized and strategized through architecture’ (Tschumi, 1994, p.259)(17). Strategy is a key word in architecture today.
No more masterplans, no more producing of arbitrary aesthetics in a fixed place, but a new network-based urban structure of programmatic, social and sequential complexity. The implementation of the emerged notions of flexibility and choice in the living environment needs to correspond with the elemental structure that makes up the contemporary fabric of the urban field.
The Bloemkoolwijk is, however non-orthogonal, built upon a certain formal grid consisting of positive- and negative space overlaying public- private- and collective space. It has been planned and executed in large quantities, to be inhabited and ‘lived in’ only afterwards. This indicates a difference between the overall grid that is built up of single, constructing elements (such as a house, park or housing block), and the post- conception usage; the grid is formal, rigid and planned, but life ‘flows’ and is flexible.
For architect R. Koolhaas, the urban grid, ‘when being in its presence neutral yet structuring’ (Koolhaas, 2013, p.43)(18), does not force unification but rather allows for freedom of the individual elements, such as collectives, clusters of functions or networks. The individual qualities of these elements actually reinforce the strength, livability, livelihood and unity of the network city. The individual element may therefore strengthen the urban fabric by being specific, by not only allowing but even stimulating the collective within the overall structuring grid of the urban field. ‘Compositions of program and activity may change constantly and independently of each other without affecting the whole’ (Cooreman, 2008, p. 72)(19). Urbanist O.M. Ungers explains that in regard to the urban field, a random collection of things will only be an amorphous mass, but when a structure of sorts is present, the urban state of linked elements will surpass the sum of its parts.
Accepting the Archipelago-situation will allow for a structure of collectives which in their individuality strengthen one another, offering room for the contemporary ongoing trends of individualization whilst stimulating a functional collective within the urban fabric. In doing so, pockets of meaning and significance can be created within the urban fabric. This ‘blue- print’ is an ongoing process of the weaving of the rigid and the flexible; the defining whilst simultaneously making room for the undefined and unprogrammed. Thus, flexibility for the individual element, or program, may be provided, given it is structured, be it spatially or through guidelines. This dealing with spaces as interacting elements within a structuring form is beyond modernism, or even beyond postmodernism, for although the allowing of the individual, or collective, to flourish, is stimulated, it is provided that this happens without urbanity becoming an amorphous, vague collection of elements. Modern and postmodern spatial environments often emphasize the role of the individual subject, and in doing so, creating a field of loose elements, rather than a product from which the total is greater than the sum of the parts. What may actually be this structuring element or system?
The response of architecture and a new methodology - Movement and time; Cinematography
The contemporary understanding of space is already highly different from that of some thirty years ago.
In present-day context, place is understood as something flexible, its functioning is based upon program, flows and time. In practice however, these notions are generally treated as separate or even collateral aspects of a design.
In this chapter, the time-aspect and the program-aspect of architecture and urban planning are elaborated. Cinematography will prove to be the main unifying instrument in the integration of these aspects in architecture. A framework is hereby formulated in which space and spatial design react and respond to the new spatial awareness and its functioning in regard to society and everyday life. This framework is then used to analyse and address the issues of the urban form of the Bloemkoolwijk, to formulate a re-contextualization strategy.
Architecture allows for comprehending something more than a concept or a single perception; the attaining of spatial awareness is a process, a way of practicing space, architecture is in itself an event. Comprehending space is a mental process, because one never ‘sees’ the whole of his surroundings, but only one frame at a time. By mentally placing these views in a sequence, as if it were cinema, one will be capable of understanding the space, and one’s locatedness within this space. The understanding of space is thus a ‘personal’ process; the processing of a sequence. Therefore the aspects of time and movement, or flow, are deeply routed in the actual understanding of architecture. This notion of a moving, sequence-based awareness of space, emerged in the late 19th century, when a new spatiovisuality was introduced with the invention of the moving image. This occurred in ‘a time when the new geography of modernity started to manifest itself through panorama paintings and dioramas, architectural venues such as arcades, railways, department stores, the pavilions of exhibition halls, etc.; spaces and architecture marked by transit’ (Bruno, 2003, p.25)(20). Mobility and flows as being a form of cinematics, were the essences of these new forms of architecture.
The aspect of ‘motion’ is thus a key aspect in both cinema, as in the deeper understanding of architecture and one’s relation to his surrounding physical space. Furthermore, moving through space produces emotion. Spatial sequences ‘move’, not only through time and space or narrative development, but also through inner space. People feel in what kind of space they actually are, and if it affects them in a positive or negative manner; by means of the haptic sense, space is processed into emotion. The haptic sense comprises the ability to sense one’s surrounding space, own movement and locatedness in relation to space.
Architecture is thus remapped as an emotional cinematic process. In this process, the notions of ‘sequence’ and ‘duration’ are key in generating meaningful places. As professor of ‘Visual and Environmental Studies’ G. Bruno states; ‘[…] in viewing an urban space by moving in and out of its bordering sea, one experiences the sensation of cinematic emotion. As one moves with the flow of the current, the view develops into a flow of images. When the point of observation shifts into a sequence of viewpoints that creates a geographical route, this is a filmic route. This route is a route where motion is emotion. The duration of space - in time - is essential in this sensory interaction’ (Bruno, p.71, 2003)(21). ‘Duration is the time that makes a difference; duration is experienced when every next moment, or frame, brings forth something qualitatively new’ (McGrath, 2008, p.46)(22). Space and time may contract and dilate a single duration. When moving through space, we actually frame select images out of the enormous possibilities of sensations, and we experience movement as a qualitative transformation in time rather than a measurable movement of a body in space.
In generating this cinematographic route, a balance must exist between repetition of elements and newness, structured in a sequence. Sequence comes forth out of the balance between difference and repetition in the act of creation. Sequence, as a structuring element abolishes the necessary usage of hierarchical, modernistic, forms and draws our attention away from the strict similar identity of singular ‘constructive’ objects, and redirects it towards differences on a larger scale, such as a street, neighborhood or even district.
These notions may act as tools for creating contemporary meaningful places. With the recognition of the time- and process aspects, the notion of program, as referring to the lived life and the enrichment hereof, also becomes a key notion. The final meaning of any sequential- and haptic awareness of architecture also depends on the programmatic sequence; therefore, cinematography consists of both space and program. For architecture is inhabited; sequences of events, use, activities, incidents are always superimposed on those fixed spatial sequences. These are the ‘programmatic sequences that suggest secret maps and impossible fictions, rambling collections of events all strung along a collection of spaces, frame after frame, room after room, episode after episode’ (Tschumi, 1981, p.81)(23).
As Architect and theorist B. Tschumi underlines; ‘although architecture does not exist without event, even in contemporary architecture and urban planning, a gap remains between ‘ideal space’, the product of mental processes, and ‘real space’, the product of social praxis’ (Tschumi, 2011, p.33)(24). But if present-day architecture is - non-hierarchically - both concept and experience, space and use, structure and superficial image, then architecture should cease to separate these categories and instead merge them into yet unprecedented ‘combinations of programs and spaces, through ‘forms of crossprogramming, transprogramming or even disprogramming’ (Eisenmann, 1993, p.58)(25).
How does this relate to present-day space? Twentieth century science thought us that space and time is one and the same thing; when moving through space, one moves through time. However, although this is a fact we cannot ignore, the majority of architects and city planners, from the Modernist movement up to even contemporary VINEX planners, have completely undermined the qualitative aspect of movement and time in urban planning. For the transgression through time and space in urbanity constructed by both modernist and VINEX-centered guidelines, is perspectival, one moves through what I would call ‘collage urbanism’. ‘Urbanism constructed out of a collection of orthogonal lines and segments, Euclidian geometry; geometrical roads, stamp-like buildings, lanes, etc.’ (Sirowy, 2010, p.121)(26). There is almost no newness in the sequence, no build-up, just repetition and linearity. Urbanity planned as it were by god’s view, countless of meters in the sky, countless of meters removed from street- and eye level; rational, predictable, mono-functional and calculated, giving just one possible kind of (haptic) awareness in the moved-through space.
When viewed through the scope of the present-day context, the urban form of the Bloemkoolwijk was in a way ahead of its time; it already dealt with the awareness of the importance of the space- and time aspect in urbanism, for the notion of Serial Vision was, albeit of modest result due to complex circumstance, already woven into the fabric of its urban grid. Furthermore, the planning already included the intention of allowing people to form an identity through collective spaces. These are notions that have since faded away in architecture and urban planning, but are re-emerging in a flexible manner in the current times of network structures and interconnection.
The structure of the Bloemkoolwijk allows naturally the re-development of cinematography. Moreover, in its changing societal context and enduring and increasing need for spatial and programmatic flexibility,
diversity and enrichment persist. It is now that through the integral approach of space and program within the cinematic framework that it may again take up its role in the responding to- and the shaping of identity and society.
Through an integral cinematographic approach for (re)development of space, Cinematic Urbanism is developed, as opposite to the linear Collage Urbanism. Cinematic Urbanism is architecture, urbanism and the programming of the environment; brought together in sequential flow and overarching network structures of social and pragmatic means. An urbanity is hereby constructed that ‘moves’; one that evokes newness, non-linearity, spontaneity, diversity, appropriation, improvisation, that generates juxtaposition and flexibility. These elements construct a time-, and space transgression that dilutes and expands when moving through the sequence of the plan – A kinematic urbanity, which produces the cinematographic route.
The framework and guidelines of redevelopment has been described, but what will this Cinematic Urbanism actually bring to the Bloemkoolwijk?
By shaping the Bloemkoolwijk into an urban form that is thoroughly situated within the contemporary and future context, further mental and physical deterioration is addressed, whilst increasing social diversity is merged within program, social control, common property resource and collective interests.
The Cinematic Urbanism-approach formalizes in a way the emerging informal economy, by allowing it to flourish; shops, businesses and professional practices can be linked to the overarching network structure, ensuring a synergizing relationship and a balancing flow of customers and people.
In generating newness, the spatial environment may be shaped into the subject of customization and hereby democratizes the physical habitat and collective spaces; mass customization in the former landscape of mass production. Lastly, integral complexity rather than disciplinal autonomy of spatial design practices is pursued, the Bloemkoolwijk will attain a spatial and programmatic structuring Cinematic sequence.
The current network society has turned the arbitrary city into a flat urban field of networks, wherein functions and centres are dispersed throughout the whole urban landscape. Social behaviour and usage of space have become lifestyle-based. The present-day living environment is subject to new demands on structured spatial and programmatic flexibility, crossprogrammed collective spaces and pragmatic networks on neighbourhood-scale.
The largest mass-produced urban form of the Netherlands, that is the suburban Bloemkoolwijk, is deteriorating in this process of networkification and overall social flows. To re-formulate its location in society, where ‘place’ has made way for flexible pragmatic collective-based networks driven by lifestyles, Cinematic Urbanism provides a new contextual framework of generating meaning, identity and involvement.
A. Modernist architecture is characterised by the notion that ‘Form follows function’, the ideal of simplicity and clarity of forms, the elimination of ‘unnecessary detail’, the visual expression of structure (as opposed to the hiding of structural elements), that the true nature or natural appearance of a material ought to be seen and by the usage of industrially-produced materials.
Modernist urban planning advocates a simplification of urban activities into basic categories and the strict separation of activities in space by planning and design measures, i.e. functional zoning of land uses, and space configurations specially designed to accommodate these activities.
B. The ‘Bloemkoolwijk’ is an urban urban planning from which the plan, or spatial layout, strongly resembles a cauliflower-like structure. The planning was aimed at creating a human scaled, personal environment, and is is based upon generating small communities that encircle a collective courtyard and each house with each their private court or garden.
The planning is hiërarchical, generally with a main road surrounded by green that branches off, and gets smaller untill one reaches the collective courtyard. The traffic-streams are highly seperated, the bicycle and the pedestrian have priority.
C. To accommodate the increasing population in the Netherlands the Ministry of VROM determined a number of main points in the Vinex-document for the construction of new housing districts starting in 1993. New districts had to be placed near existing town centers and had to contribute to the following aims:
- Endorsement of existing malls (Increasing the potential number of customers)
- Limit the removals of unsatisfied inhabitants in medium-large cities
- Protection of open areas by concentrating the agglomerations around existing medium-large cities
- Limit traffic between houses, work and stores (short distances offer more possibilities for public transport, bicycles and walking)
- The Vinex-locations also had to diminish the unfair pricing of housing (affordable rentable houses).
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