Exploring Vacancy in Harderwijk

Vacancy in Harderwijk

Bureau B+B searches for new opportunities for urban centres. We will develop a practical strategy for the redevelopment of city centers suffering from structural vacancy. During an interactive process we match new program to existing space. We will map the possibilities, like Nolli did for Rome in the eighteenth century. After that, we design new components for city centers, building on Christopher Alexander’s “The Pattern Language”.

Future Proof City Center
In the last 40 years, Bureau B+B has always anticipated the changing role of the Dutch inner cities when designing public space. Today, the town centers are again in need of recalibration. Traditional shopping streets are having a hard time, due to the rise of online shopping, among other things. This leads to functional uniformity, loss of meaning and of life. Solutions must be found together with the locals. This asks for small scale, temporary and adaptable urbanism. Under these circumstances, the designer does not compose blueprints, but directs the process.

Most vacancies are found in the centers of smaller towns in the periphery of the Netherlands. That is why Bureau B+B focuses on Harderwijk for this research. The research starts with an identification of reference projects, using the open source network ‘The City at Eye Level’. After that, we spend a week in Harderwijk, to experience the town intensively and to meet the locals. We put together a team of decision makers, local representatives and several experts, including Nel de Jager. Finally, we match new program to existing space, in cooperation with the locals.

Nolli Map
The spatial analysis consists of mapping the existing qualities and new possibilities. We base our map on the famous Nolli Map of Rome, that not only shows public space, but also publicly accessible indoor space. We will add current vacancies to our Nolli Map of Harderwijk, in order to reveal possibilities for new activities.

The Pattern Language
The Nolli Map is the starting point for our search for principles and structures defining quality in city centers. By doing this, we add a contemporary supplement to Christopher Alexander’s “The Pattern Language”. The Pattern Language is a standard work from 1977, describing principles that create spatial quality on all scales. This way, we design new components that enable city centers to adapt to changing circumstances.

  • Location: Binnenstad, Harderwijk, Nederland
  • Research: 2016
  • Client: Creative Industry Fund
  • Partners: Municipality of Harderwijk, Nel de Jager, Rudy Uytenhaak, The City at Eye Level