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vacant nl

Some interesting talks at This Happened Utrecht on Monday, including a presentation by Ronald Rietveld on the Dutch entry for this year's Venice Architecture Biennale, titled 'Vacant NL, where architecture meets ideas'.

Vacant NL - 1

In an installation and a book (the 'Dutch Atlas of Vacancy'), this project neatly visualizes the huge number of vacant public buildings in the Netherlands - ranging from warehouses, water towers and churches to the Radio Kootwijk building - and calls for their reuse, particularly for the creative industry. (With an irony that was not lost on the creators, the Dutch pavilion in Venice is also in this category, being used only three months a year.)

The broader context of 'Vacant NL' is to supply a vision for the necessary "spatial conditions for innovation", according to the curatorial statement (PDF). Which in turn relates to certain ambitions of the Dutch government that repeat "innovation" and "creative industry" like a mantra.

Vacant NL - 2

One weak point in this vision might be that even if all these buildings became available, laws of supply and demand would still apply, with buildings in the Randstad (where reuse is already more common) in huge demand, while buildings in rural settings would likely be more difficult to find use for.

Still, whatever ripples this project will create in the political pond, the way the issue is raised is certainly daring, and its visualization in blue foam very powerful.

Update: More pictures over at We make money not art.

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