Exploring Vacancy in Harderwijk

Vacancy in Harderwijk

Bureau B+B researches fresh opportunities for urban centers. We will develop a practical strategy for the redevelopment of city centers suffering from structural vacancy. During an interactive process we match new programs to existing spaces. We will map the possibilities, similar to what Nolli did for Rome in the eighteenth century. In addition, 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. For example, traditional shopping streets are struggling due to the rise of online shopping. This leads to a functional uniformity, loss of meaning and of energy. Solutions must be developed together with locals creating 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 outer edges 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’. We spent a week in Harderwijk, to intensely experience the town 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 the new program to existing space, in cooperation with the locals.

Nolli Map
The spatial analysis consists of mapping the existing qualities and new opportunities. 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 options 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 leads to designing 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