With a new scale of operating and constructing large offshore wind farms, as seen in the image below, the city of Vlissingen and the port of Vlissingen-Oost are facing a transition. A part of this transition will include an increase of work migration and temporary citizens within the area for the next five years. This project is a research into this phenomenon of comings and goings of migrant workers.
The design is an attempt to make the global factors of energy and migrant workers comprehensible and visible, while using this as a catalyst to local urban change. The project illustrates the idea that services for the temporary needs of migrant workers can be combined with long term improvements for the local population. The temporary citizens are seen as a window of opportunity for the transformation of the urban area, as well the industrial port area.
Strategy & Concept
In Vlissingen, the port in the city center offered space where local and global forces came together with the global exchange of goods and people. But with the movement of the port industry to a place outside urban conditions, Vlissingen-Oost, this intermediary space disappeared. Therefore, the first part of the strategy is to connect the local citizen again with the global forces, by introducing a public program into the port area. On the other hand, the temporary citizen or the migrant worker, is detached from urban life due to their location of accommodation outside of the urban conditions. Therefore, the second part of the strategy is to bring the workers back into the city, in terms of housing and public functions.
To implement the strategy, four locations within the urban area and one location within the industrial port area is chosen. To ensure the legacy of the design projects in a later stage, the locations are chosen by their specific characteristics, such as heritage, soil condition and presence of a waterfront, as well as their importance towards connections within the existing urban system of the city.
Each project is based on the presence of the temporary citizens throughout the process of building a windfarm. The amount of workers will variate according to the building stage of the windfarm. The preparation of Borssele in the first two phases, the manufacturing of the components, will mainly take place outside of Vlissingen and therefore, not many workers will be present. During phase 3 and 5, in which the assembly and installation of different elements will take place on site, more workers will arrive and temporary accommodation is necessary.
To ensure that each of the design locations offer not only space for the temporary citizens, the design needs to be connected with the system and the urban fabric of the city. Therefore, each design project follows four design principles: activating the waterfront, developing a route for a connection with the city, public functions on the ground floor and different levels for visual interaction (image below). The design elements used in the designs of each location provide continuity and connect the different projects together. Main elements are chosen for infrastructure, landscaping and lightning.
Finally, the project touches upon two controversial challenges in the Dutch society, offshore wind energy and migrant workers. By exploring these themes from an urban designers point of view, the influence on the built environment could be examined. The project does not give a definite design or solution, but rather shows a new perspective on how planning could play a role in taking advantage of opportunities temporary citizens could offer. This could help to open the discussion on how to deal with the comings and goings of citizens.