The Convergence Begins: Boom Clap

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I arrived in Amsterdam via an easy and comfortable train ride.  It’s nice to capitalize on the convenient geography of central Europe.  Entry into the Netherlands marks the beginning of nearly a month of research (some of you are laughing) in Holland.  The major events planned for these next few weeks are 1. finally meeting up with my two fellow fellows and 2. participating in Rotterdam – Open City: the 5th International Architecture Summer School hosted by the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture and Urban Design.

I am fortunate enough to be able to meet up with the two other 2009 Branner Traveling Fellows, Nick Sowers “Military Atmospheres” and Taylor Medlin “RE:mote Controlled” while in Amsterdam and Den Haag.  Nick is studying the interface between military and civilian spaces and Taylor is investigating construction techniques used in sites of remote location..  While we are still finalizing plans and site visits, we are continuously discovering overlaps among our research and interests.  For example, I am discovering many new cities and public spaces are the sites of former military occupation and, of course, many bases and new cities are located in remote areas.  We were discussing the possibility of going to Sealand or other similar new city/military base propped on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean.  Slavecity, outside Rotterdam, might be another possibility.  Anyway, to hit this point home – the continuously overlapping Branner topics, see the point made by Jaap van Veen pre arrival into Noord Holland.  Let’s just say that he has been living and sailing in the Netherlands for a long time:

While I hardly know what Oerestad is about ,I wonder whether you are aware of historic dimensions.  I wondered about this rather empty plain so close to Kopenhagen, until I learned it used to be a practicing area for Danish army artillery until I suppose somewhere in the 1930’s. (Amager Faelled).  I hope you visited Christiana, also a former defense structure (army connected to nearby ex-naval base Holmene).  These structures seem to have liberated themselves by the help of a mix of entrepreneurs and squatters without assistance of official city planners.  Amager Faelled lacked buildings to squat So it has decades later been commissioned to official architects, of which you are in danger of becoming one. While in London ,Copenhagen and Stockholm, 17th century navy sites long have left governmental wings, in Amsterdam we still have this curious “Marine Etablissement” that has no naval function, but is used by central government to house riot police, provide helicopters with unpopular foreign heads of state with a discrete landing place; well beyond the jurisdiction of the city council.  It would be nice if someone like you noted these anomalies – the place could be better used, relieve inner city Amsterdam from some problems, etc.  For example, it would be an ideal international bus station to ship passengers into roundtrip-boats.

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