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Column Marianne Loof | Homesick for the crisis

08 January 2016

Cobouw marianne loof 160112 heimwee naar de crisis

The Christmas break is a good time for reflection: with a year to look back on and a year to look forward to.

An optimistic glow coloured the turn of the year for the architecture-branch. This is not the case in the whole of the Netherlands, but the upward trend is highly visible in the metropolitan area of Amsterdam and Utrecht. Houses are being sold, municipalities are eagerly looking for developed sites, and architects are not just fabricating feasibility studies, but are designing projects with a tight planning for actual realization.

Contractors are very busy with building, and the coming year the market pressure undoubtedly will continue its upward trend. The production surpluses will change into production deficits. Many of the involved parties need to ‘fatten up’ and increase their margins. That is the positive side of the story.

But the present euphoria also carries a risk. The financial crisis was not just about money, it also exposed the underlying mechanisms: a unilateral system of production, the pursuit of short-term interests and solutions, thirst for power. The aftermath of the crisis was employed for collective introspection, reflection, and even penance. Top-down was replaced by bottom-up. We would rise from the ashes feeling reborn and never make the same mistakes again. The emphasis is placed on cooperation, long-term visions, room for new initiators, and social participation. This focus has resulted in the emergence of surprising initiatives. New fervour and positive energy sprouted despite all the pain caused by the crisis.

Now that the demand is making a comeback, we are facing the moment of truth. How do we make sure we don’t slip back into old habits? Of course, new legislation has curbed former excesses. Still, some lessons from the crisis seem quickly forgotten. Above all, let’s not go down the path of the banking sector, where it already appears to be business as usual. Doesn’t that make you homesick for the crisis?

January 2016,