4/23/2012

D.I.Y Urbanism: Almere Oosterworld by MVRDV

MVRDV recently unveiled their project for an urban development in Almere Oosterworld, The Netherlands. An ambitious proposal entitled DIY Urbanism: Almere Oosterworld, or maybe this is not the title but the ambition is crystal clear: an urbanism that "puts power into the hands of neighborhoods and communities."
Almere's Topography

But first, the project itself is what MVRDV defends: a project that results from MVRDV's research on future cities: built environment, human activities and natural environment are interrelated. The Green City Calculator, for example, a tool that resides in measuring the 'greeness' of the city and making it comparable. According to MVRDV and their think lab The Why Factory:
D.I.Y Urbanism: Almere Oosterworld © MVRDV.
Originally appeared on archdaily.

We need to measure the greeness of our cities. We have a lot of labels for buildings. Two for neighborhoods are n development. But so far, there is no tool to measure and compare cities. We need the Green City Calculator, because cities are crucial in the fight against climate change. We need to measure our efforts to know if they have an effect. And to know where we are and how far we need to get.
Back to D.I.Y Urbanism: Almere OosterworldMVRDV says:
D.I.Y Urbanism: Almere Oosterworld © MVRDV.
Originally appeared on archdaily.

[This proposal] is a revolution in Dutch urban planning as it steps away from governmental dictate and invites organic urban growth in which initiatives are stimulated and inhabitants can create their own neighborhoods including public green, urban agriculture and roads.
This proposal will sit a 43-square-kilometer site. 15,000 dwellings, 200,000-square-meter offices, and 400-hectare new landscape. In short, as I mentioned, a mix of human activities, built enviroment and natural elements based on this: 18% construction, 8% roads, 13% public green, 2% water and 59% urban agriculture.
D.I.Y Urbanism: Almere Oosterworld © MVRDV.
Originally appeared on archdaily.

This proposal hopes to provide living conditions and preservation of the rural character of Almere New Town with the connection of living, working, nature, and leisure. Low density is the key to this approach in contrast with the urban west of the city to guarantee urban agriculture security.
D.I.Y Urbanism: Almere Oosterworld © MVRDV.
Originally appeared on archdaily.

The recent spate of articles on the topic of urbanization, population growth and environmental stress revealed that cities and vicinities will require urgent measures to secure energy, water, as well as food due to global issues — urbanization, increasingly human activities, climate change, urban migration, population expansion. As a result, this era's urbanization must take account of the problem of food security to respond to urban population expansion and land/natural/food resources. This is at least what a recent report warns. And, with evidence, The Netherlands — to limit but only to what is concerned here — is concerned by these pressing issues.
D.I.Y Urbanism: Almere Oosterworld © MVRDV.
Originally appeared on archdaily.

MVRDV as well as more and more architects address this issue of food production in the context of an increasingly urbanization of the world. Here locally considering this middleweight city of Almere as a city lab for this needed shift to green and self-sustained cities. Indeed, it is announced that 50% of the site will be dedicated to urban farmlands to provide food to the rest of city. According to the architecture firm, this approach is expected to improve Almere's sustainable profile and maintain the agricultural character of the area.
D.I.Y Urbanism: Almere Oosterworld © MVRDV.
Originally appeared on archdaily.

The last but more intriguing characteristic — in my view — to this proposal is its articulation: D.I.Y, for do-it-yourself, or, and rather, design-it-yourself. This confuses me a bit. Not that I am skeptical to MVRDV's ambition to allow dwellers to take part to the proposal:
As individuals begin to realize their designs they will also be held responsible for the components that make their share of the land livable: the piece of road, energy, sanitation, rubbish colection, public green and urban farming.
Or:
The planning has allotted the rest of the space for collective initiatives that will help create a strong sense of community and character of the town.

Or else:
The New Town Almere, of which Almere Oosterworld will be a part, was designed in a similar fashion, allowing individuals to build their own homes. In this instance, MVRDV is the organizer, but private initiative is the driver.
However, it is important to clarify the signification of D.I.Y practices. These are enacted from the bottom-up. In a nutshell, individuals, small groups of people or communities work together to improve the living conditions and the quality of life, or to communicate a message, at the scale of the urban block of building.

Mimi Zeiger proposes, in a very interesting and enlightened essay entitled The Interventionist's Toolkit, a definition of these D.I.Y practices. As Zeiger writes, D.I.Y signifies: a practice driven by individuals and community:
Driven by local and community issues and intended as polemics that question conventional practice, these projects reflect an ad hoc way of working; they are motivated more by grassroots activism than by the kind of home-craft projects (think pickling, Ikea-hacking and knitting) sponsored by mainstream sheltr media, usually under the Do-It-Yourself rubric.
A clear distinction between a political act of design-it-yourself and a mainstream approach one.

She goes on:
They are often produced by emerging architects, artists and urbanists working outside professional boundaries but nonetheless engaging questions of the built environment and architecture culture.
And yet, this does not mean either that MVRDV must be excluded from this category of actors, or that their intention is more 'commercial' while these actors' intention is more 'political' meaning legitimate. This said, MVRDV's approach of D.I.Y needs much more precision for a better examination of this proposal, and, more important, their new approach of urbanism that connects individuals and communities and architects. I will borrow Michael Kimmelman's quotation from Zeiger's essay:
[C]ulture (often unconsciously) identifies crucial ruptures, rifts, gaps and shifts in society. It is indispensable for our understanding of the mechanics of the world in this respect, pointing us toward those things around us that are unstable, changing, that shape how we live and how we treat one another. If we're alert to it, it helps reveal who we are to ourselves, often in ways we didn't realize in places we didn't necessarily think to look.
In a nutshell, beyond the aim of addressing the act of living, working, and having leisure in combination with nature, beyond the aim of tackling the importance of food production and sustainability in an increasingly population expansion, and urbanization, I am curious to see if — with the impulsion of MVRDV's think lab The Why Factory — this proposal participates to a search for new ways to practice and provoke within the fields of architecture, urbanism, and design.
D.I.Y Urbanism: Almere Oosterworld © MVRDV.
Originally appeared on archdaily.


Source: archdaily and eco-question.



1 comment:

timothee.diot@laposte.net said...

Hello, I'm pretty interested by this topic. Actually I have a practical placement at UFO, a french start up maid by architects about collaborative urbanism and "co-conception".

They create "unlimited cities"
(http://vimeo.com/33958413) , and are about to show "evolving cities" at Evry . You can see the project here : http://www.futur-en-seine.fr/prototype/evolving-cities/.

I Would like to stay in touch with you and discuss more about this kind of tools, which are developed nowadays. My email is timothee.diot@laposte.net.

I'm looking forward to have news from you, see you !

Pageviews last month