Research Trip -The Hague, vacant school and vacant tennis complex re-use

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TU Delft and University of Michigan students have a 2-day workshop

Delft students joined up with Michigan students for a 2-day lecture and design workshop. The collaboration was with Samir Bantal’s studio called “less is more” based on a study of vacancy in Rotterdam and Detroit. His studio met with our group in Ann Arbor weeks before, allowing us to plan this brainstorming and model making exercise. Day 1 had sites in Detroit and day 2 had sites in Rotterdam . Samir’s graduate students had already built elaborate models of Detroit (far model) and Rotterdam (near model) that could use for the event. Athough there was about 5 hours to produce and materialize concepts, the work was surprisingly interesting and students were extremely pleased with the experience.

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Research Trip -exhibition at ARCAM on vacancy, 1.2 million square meters of empty offices

We were fortunate that we could attend an opening for an exhibition on vacancy and related strategies at ARCAM in Amsterdam. Although we were taken by the amount of vacant office spaces, the vacancy map on the right made some students laugh, commenting that it looked like the inverse of a Detroit vacancy map. The exhibition had about a dozen schemes and was an excellent way to start the trip.

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Research Trip -Kus & Sloop temporary hotel

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Research Trip -NDSM, former harbor squatters made a city-like structure in a vacant shipyard with offices, suspended skatepark, studios…

Eve de Klerk, one of the founders of NDSM gave the students a tour of the complex, which includes the old shipyard building, a dry dock, and separate restaurant made of recycled materials. She was one of the squatters in the long vacated harbors of Rotterdam. The visit made us consider implications for projects. One of our concerns is to be constricted to merely an interior intervention, but at this scale, one might argue that this question becomes irrelevant. Of course, we also consider projects that might tie a site in Rotterdam as well as one close to home (as the imagery is also somehow familiar). One proposition, to analyze what is and is not working here and distill a project.


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parkhuis squat turned cultural center and bridge

Although not quite visible in the pictures, this site was one of the most lavishly outfitted buildings in our course agenda. We couldn’t help note that the users appear to be quite different from image we had of the typical squatter, and reminded us of one argument tying squatting to issues of institutionalization and gentrification.

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OT301 used to be an abandoned film school, squatted, and institutionalized in Amsterdam

The embedded infrastructure of the old film school is impressive. Below is one of the old film stages which is now converted to a wide range of uses. The screening room looked better than most in my recent memory. One can really understand how this group benefited from “inheriting” all of these amenities. OT301 follows the familiar theme of a culturally grounded squat/anti-squat group coming together to become a legitimized, fully-owned, institution – often supported by various public and private funds. These institutions often wrestle with their image, how they want to be portrayed both in terms of their constituency and their physical presence at the street level.

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