IABR 2014 Urban by Nature— Atelier Brabantstad
In the past, the development of North Brabant into an innovative and ambitious region was accompanied by active spatial spread. Nowadays, administrators and citizens are confronted with a number of major social challenges. There is an urgent need for an alternative spatial plan and a redevelopment of the ‘urban tapestry’. In order to examine what this plan and the new models for development might be, BrabantStad (the Province of North Brabant and the cities of Eindhoven, Helmond, Den Bosch, Tilburg and Breda), four water management boards and the International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam (IABR) have joined forces. Between March 2013 and August 2014 they worked together in the IABR BrabantStad Project Atelier with a research team made up of designers: Floris Alkemade, Architect, LOLA Landscape Architects, and Architecture Workroom Brussels. The results of this study, which include an impressive tapestry, were documented and collected in the publication Weaving the Urban Tapestry, published by the IABR, the Province of North Brabant and Architecture Workroom Brussels itself.
Read the report here
North Brabant faces serious ecological and socio-economic challenges. At the same time, the dynamism and inventiveness of its inhabitants and entrepreneurs provides a huge opportunity. To respond to these challenges and to make full use of the strengths of this society, the region has to look for plans and methods for the reactivation of the ‘urban tapestry’: a colourful mosaic of urban districts, intensive farming, avenues, villages, industrial activity, stream valleys, natural areas and canals. The IABR BrabantStad Project Atelier organised the time and the space to work with a wide range of actors on changing social assignments and dynamics, and to design alternative models of development.
It is the amalgam of all the many local coalitions and projects that has the ability to reactivate the ‘urban tapestry’ of North Brabant. A series of models for development makes new spatial linkages possible. The government makes room for social dynamism on the condition that this form of development also helps build on responses to the major challenges. In each instance the economic support concerning good-quality housing, agriculture, recreation and innovative entrepreneurship are linked to the question of water management.
The urban tapestry is a dynamic field of action with existing building and programmes for land use, with opportunities for future developments, and with an ecological system that is under serious tension. There could be no more powerful way of making this field of action with all its new rules legible and tangible than in a tapestry 12 metres long and 3 metres high. This tactile foundation for local initiatives and projects was woven by TextielLab in Tilburg and was first shown as part of IABR 2014 and then toured Brabant.
The IABR BrabantStad Project Atelier is not the end of the matter. It is not simply a mirror of current policy and social evolution, or a seductive but unrealistic image of the future. It is a first move towards an alternative interpretation, a different attitude and story, and a new working method based on actual practice. This process of cooperating with a lot of actors is a step towards a subsequent, goal-oriented and ambitious future ateliers: a laboratory with a series of pilot projects implemented together with coalitions of local actors. The reactivation of the urban tapestry can start.