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Column Adriaan Mout | Paradise Holland

17 October 2019

Cobouw adriaan mout 191017 paradijs holland

‘Panorama Nederland’ (Panorama the Netherlands), the magnum opus of the current team of government advisors, led by the Dutch Chief Government Architect Floris Alkemade, has been traveling through the Netherlands for more than half a year. I read the report some time ago, it was hopeful. A few weeks ago I saw the exhibition about the panorama for the first time and at a very special location: the ‘Gaasperdammer’ tunnel. This tunnel, located in southeastern Amsterdam, is not yet in use. And just like the report, the exhibition exudes optimism, cheerfulness, perhaps a touch of naivety, but evermore an unrestrained belief in a different future.

Last week I was in Mechelen, Belgium, where Floris Alkemade, the initiator of the Panorama, addressed a hundred Dutch and Belgian architects about the future of the Netherlands. Again an optimistic vision, a challenge for Dutch designers. But also aware that behavioral changes and solidarity are indispensable for the changes that are necessary. And we, designers of the built environment, are pre-eminently the people able to initiate this transition. We must do so by sketching seductive, inspiring and convincing visions for the future.

The fact that Alkemade spoke precisely in Mechelen was a lucky coincidence, because this medium-sized town has gone through a tour de force in the last twenty years and has undergone a revolution. From a no-go area, this town has been transformed into a nice, safe and clean city, with striking architecture. A dynamic local administration, led by an ambitious mayor, has achieved this transformation and the city’s designers have been drawn along with this flow. Ambition, optimism and approaches have worked here.

In my opinion, the Gaasperdammer tunnel is a model for the bold interventions targeted by the Panorama. Mobility and spatial quality are being improved and boost the quality of life in southeastern Amsterdam at the same time. Panorama Nederland, for those who have not yet been there, go see this traveling circus of optimism and belief in a new future. And above all, let's act accordingly.

October 2019, Cobouw.nl