De Bouwbubbel van Rotterdam

Crisis or no crisis, Rotterdam continues to construct new buildings. In front of the central station, foundations are being laid for a 120m high mixed-use tower, just behind it looms the almost finished colorful complex ‘The Calypso’, a bit further down town, a giant market hall will be constructed, and ‘The Rotterdam’ -the country’s largest building- has recently reached his highest point. Many citizens are proud of these new developments: they make Rotterdam a contemporary city, full of architectural masterpieces. But how come large real estate projects are still being constructed in Rotterdam, while they are suspended or canceled in… Read More

The Banality of Good at the Royal Institute of British Architects

Photo by Iwan Baan Last year, Wouter Vanstiphout’s office ‘Crimson Architectural Historians’ presented their research work at the Biennale di Venezia 2012 Architecture Exhibition. Their contribution titled ‘The Banality of Good: Six decades of New Towns, Architects, Money and Politics’, is now traveling and makes its first stop at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London! The official (re)launch takes place on Tuesday 26th March 2013 and forms part of the Spring Last Tuesday late night programme of events. Check out the schedule below, you’re all invited! The central question of the exhibition is: can the design of New… Read More

Euro Vegas part 2

In July 2012 we wrote an article about Sheldon Adelson’s controversial plans to construct a multi-billion dollar gambling resort somewhere in the outskirts of Madrid or Barcelona. Last February, Adelson finally made his decision and selected a 750-hectare site in Alcorcón, a quiet suburb of Madrid. After the first stone is laid late this year it will become one of Europe‘s biggest building sites, creating tens of thousands of jobs in recession-hit Spain. The development would include six casinos with 18,000 slot machines and 1,000 gambling tables, 12 hotels featuring a total of 36,000 rooms, a convention center, three golf… Read More

De slag om Rotterdam

Wouter Vanstiphout was a guest in yesterday’s episode of the Dutch TV program ‘De slag om Nederland‘. He talked about the rising vacancy in Rotterdam, while Alderman -and former director of a real estate agency- Hamit Karakus fills the city’s skyline with prestigious shiny towers by famous starchitects. After the broadcast, an interesting discussion arose on blogs and twitter. Read some reactions here or here. Or decide for yourself and watch the show (all in Dutch only)

Sochi Winter Olympics 2014

While London is working hard to live up to their –once promised– Olympic legacy, and IOC chief Jacques Rogge is debating whether the London Games were the best ever or just totally awesome, Putin is building his own Olympic dream in the Russian city of Sochi. Sochi is a -by Stalin established- resort city along the Black Sea which grew rapidly during Valdimir Putin’s term in office. Although temperatures rarely dip below 12C, the city was selected to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. For Putin, an opportunity to showcase Russia’s ability to organize major events and boost its international image,… Read More

Forced Evictions and Nail Houses

The urge for progress and economic growth by the Chinese Communist Party has led to rapid urbanization all over the county. Local governments were encouraged to borrow large sums from state banks to finance stimulus projects in order to re-develop land for new roads, factories or residential complexes. Nowadays, influenced by the global economic crisis, these governments  strongly rely on the sale of land to repay the huge sums they borrowed before, and noting seems to go too far to force people out of their homes or sell their rights to land-use. A recently published report by Amnesty international highlights… Read More

The adventures of the SS Rotterdam

The former passenger ship SS Rotterdam is sold for 29.9 million Euro to the Hotel Chain WestCord Hotels. The controversial ship is now owned by the Rotterdam housing corporation Woonbron. In 2005, Housing corporation Woonbron bought the flagship of the Holland-America Line, the SS Rotterdam, originally built in 1959. The restored ship was supposed to become an icon of the urban renewal of Rotterdam South. As one of the biggest tourist attractions of the city, it would bring jobs to the area and provide internships for students from surrounding schools. The cost for the purchase and renovation of the ship… Read More

Blame the architect: Trenton Oldfield

Last week the founder of architectural and urban activist group This Is Not A Gateway: Trenton Oldfield, was jailed for six months for disrupting the annual Oxford and Cambridge boat race of last April. The 36-year-old Oldfield – graduated from London School of Economics in contemporary urbanism and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts- jumped into the Thames to stop the race and protest against elitism. The boat race -he said- “Is a symbol of a lot of issues in Britain around class, 70% of Government pushing through very significant cuts are Oxford or Cambridge graduates.” Oldfield worked… Read More

Rise of the megacities

Sixty-two years ago New York and Tokyo were the world’s only megacities with over 10 million residents. Now there are 23, and the UN predicts (pdf!) a total of 37 by 2025. All but eight of these cities will be located in the developing world – and the quality of life for millions will be determined by the quality of their cities. The guardian made a quite impressive interactive map showing the 100 most populous cities as of 2012 according to the UN (megacities are shown with a black border), in order to explore the latest estimates and forecasts on… Read More

Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design

If you happen to be in New York between now and March 25th, make sure you check out the MoMA exhibition: 9 + 1 Ways of Being Political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design The political potential of architecture was one of the founding credos of the avant-garde in the early 20th century. Yet today it is commonly believed that this potential has been overwhelmed by economic realities and by the sense that architecture, by its very nature, is symbiotic with existing power structures. Such a perception, however, is belied both by the rise of a… Read More