City Dwellers as Designers, and the Lost Generation of Architects

An interview with Winy Maas on the future challanges in urban planning by Linda Hoegberg Andersson

Read intro

An interview with Winy Maas

An interview by Linda Hoegberg Andersson

Winy Maas, together with Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie De Vries, is the founding director of the architecture and urban planning firm MVRDV, which has been operating for 20 years in Rotterdam.

Since 2008, Winy Maas has been the director of The Why Factory, which he founded at TU Delft. The Why Factory, together with its students, research future cities, and has addressed topics such as mobility, density, liberty, food production and software planning. In a research project called ‘Anarcity’, The Why Factory explores the social and architectural extents of unrestrained liberty.

The question of individualism and collectiveness is further elaborated in a planning concept called ‘Freeland’ developed by The Why Factory and MVRDV. ‘Freeland’ challenges the over-regulated urban planning in favour of personal liberty. At the same time, they recognise that responsibility comes with freedom, and in most cases, collaboration between neighbours is needed.

The concept of ‘Freeland’ is step by step turning from theory to practice. The project that has gone furthest in terms of implementation is ‘Almere Oosterwold’ in The Netherlands, which is currently in process in Almere, a municipality east of Amsterdam. This urban development is monitored via advanced software, which allows a flexible planning process.

MVRDV and The Why Factory have recognised the potential of technology in urban planning and architecture. They have developed a number of software packages which are intended to facilitate individual choice, boost diversity, and to empower users. This practice raises important questions such as how far we can go with bottom up planning and how much diversity we will achieve in reality by allowing more freedom for the city dwellers. And how do these emerging possibilities change the future role of architects?
Hide intro

In an interview with ‘Designboom’ in 2010, you said that you hope that the new generation of architects will “kill” the previous one. That sounds quite cruel! Do you see anybody having the potential to challenge the dominating star-​architects?

Most of the superstar architects are coming from a generation born in the sixties. They occupy a lot of the skills and control many of the larger projects, and somehow they are not really willing to give space to a younger generation. One of the challenges is how the young generation can grasp a grander scale when our generation is sinking.

But I think there is constant opportunity, and I see potential in thinking becoming a market for the younger generation. Thinking has allowed us to make the buildings that we design. There is still a lot of knowledge in thinking, and I do hope that that pushes the younger generation.

Many of the young European architects are facing a crisis that makes their future vulnerable. A reason why they don’t have a lot of power is that the market is going toward countries like China, and they are just too late, because China already has Chinese architects that can do the job. So it could be a lost generation.

At the same times as operations in China take place with its own specific kind of urbanism, other laboratories can be found in the European context. I think that is exactly the époque of these days, but in ten years this will be different. At the moment, I see a combination of laboratories in a shrinking society that is occurring parallel to the growing heaviness of Asian environments. That has potential to be a very fruitful combination, and one can imagine a new kind of world coming out of it.

The housemaker / Forgemind Archimedia /

The housemaker /​Forgemind Archimedia /​flickr​.com

Russia can also become a growing market. What do you think are the main challenges in Russian urbanism?

The question is if plans like Zaryadye Park really are going to be executed. I am not sure it will happen. That also counts for The National Center for Contemporary Art. It is very important in urban planning that things are taken seriously, are followed up on, and are not drawn back. I think that is one of the most important elements that we need to establish everywhere, and especially in this age, in places like Moscow.

There are emerging economies like China, Indonesia, or India that face similar situations. Every country has their own cultural components, and issues of insecurity, corruption and lack of safety appear in these environments. That enormously threatens the potential of a free urbanism that people love and can participate in.

Media should orchestrate and monitor the endless desire to make things, to design things; it should be curious about what new plans could be made, and make them happen.

The media has a very important role in this. The starting point is to establish networks that follow and discuss these issues. What can come out of the media is the endless desire to make things, to design things, to be curious about what new plans could be made and to make them happen. Media should orchestrate and monitor that; they should control the situation of making things real. I think that is the most important part I can see establishing in Russia and other places.

The software you developed for Almere Oostwerwold aims to facilitate an organic development of the area, where regular people have the chance to influence, and interact in the process. Do you see a growing tendency of more participation-​oriented design?

It is definitely one of the themes. Due to that I hope that everybody can become a city maker, and that everybody directly can influence what he or she wants to possess, build or change. That is definitely a dream that I want to encompass.

I hope that everybody can become a city maker, and directly influence what he or she wants to possess, build, or change. That is definitely a dream I want to encompass.

Almere Oosterwold is one of the most advanced pieces of that kind of urbanism. It is a strategy, and there are many tasks for architects and urbanists in that. One task is to suggest how you can build, by creating a catalogue of directions, and to make links between possible designers and possible builders. Another task is writing the software, which is highly architectural and urbanistic, because it is based on implementation and negotiation of laws and regulations. The world of software scripting or post-​scripting helps convince communities like Almere, which is a provincial town, that this kind of software should be made. So the linkage between research and reality is there.

The why factory / Nicolette Mastrangelo /

The why factory /​Nicolette Mastrangelo /​flickr​.com

What results do you anticipate in Almere Oosterwold?

The possible results of Almere Oosterwold range from failure to beauty. I have no clue how much conformism there will be in the end, and how much liberty it really evokes.

The possible results in Almere Oosterwold range from failure to beauty. I have no clue how much conformism there will be in the end, and how much liberty it really evokes. That is a risk, but on the other hand there is no risk at all, because whatever comes up people are participating in the process. That is a funny awareness.

Nowadays, in theory, technology could allow everybody to influence urban planning through a constant online connection via personal devices. Do new technologies like these allow a shift of paradigm, where the users can dictate the design and planning processes?

The current age is transitioning into the computer age, and thus the participation age. These days, the public space that surrounds social media has become popular as a kind of open nation idea. At the same time, the personal iPhone and other devices have created the highest individualism ever. I completely agree with that, and I follow the same logic, but on the level of urbanism.

So, optimistically the answer is yes, but it’s not that far yet, it is still not happening. So far it can only be used for some communication, but such things as bidding or influencing are not yet organised through those technical means yet. Crowd-​funding is there, but that doesn’t mean that you can be online and directly connected with possible investments, interactions or negotiations. It is getting there, but it’s still a dream rather than a reality.

Do you see other architects adopting the idea of bottom-​up planning after the project of Almere Oosterwold?

Oh, of course, man, it’s copied like hell. At this moment, many cities all over the Netherlands want people to build and design their own homes. I can sense that there is going to a desire for that in France and in Moscow too. It fulfills the expectations of a middle class market, it allows politicians and aldermen to give more freedom in planning, and it fulfills the expectations of a new generation that has the knowledge, skills, and the intelligence to do that. This doesn’t mean that it is completely legit or applicable for all social classes, but it would be great if social housing or our museums could also be done like in this way.

In China, it would be applied in different circumstances, and we have to be aware that there it has a very different political connotation than with the middle class in the Netherlands. And how can ‘Freiland’, the German version of ‘Freeland’, be applied in an American context? That would be an ironic twist.

Freeland presented in Venice Biennale 2012 / Alessandro Zerbi /

Freeland presented in Venice Biennale 2012 /​Alessandro Zerbi /​flickr​.com

How do you see the balance between the collective and the individual in these projects?

We do two things in The Why Factory that contribute to the world of ‘Freeland’. One is the world of writing software, mentioned before, and the other one is research on the anarchistic, called the ‘Anarcity’. The agenda of ‘Anarcity’ is to evoke how far we can go with personal liberty. When does it become a world where guns are taking over the situation; until what moment can I avoid guns?

Anarcity’ deals with individuality and collectives, and asks the question ‘When do I need my neighbour?’. One of the most beautiful stories that one student investigated was “Can I maintain my current diet, but do everything by myself?” She calculated how many hours would be needed per day to raise crops, cattle, and so on. She found out that it would take 4.3 days per day. That is interesting, because you cannot do that, but it shows the minimum support act that you need. It shows that you not only need to strive for low consumption in your daily life, but also a certain kind of technical solution and specialisation to make it possible. That is already known in a way, but to be aware of that and to know the percentage of it, is the beauty of that project.

It puts that question of collective forward, and I feel quite happy with that. The calculation suggests that we need our neighbours, and it gives me a lot of trust and comfort that the collective space will always be there.

How would you compare the utopian projects by The Why Factory, compared with the utopian projects by Archizoom and Superstudio?

The architects that you are referring to now like Superstudio and Archizoom are my heroes. They had beautiful radical thoughts on issues like liberty and social equality. The beauty lies in the notion of helping and suggesting of how architecture could perform social ideas and practical ideas. These days, middle class welfare states have actually realised these ideas; they are closer to liberalism than ever and therefore closer to freedom; there is more criticism than ever, and in many cases there is more money also. There is an intelligence that is more available now, and somehow that is a good translation of the conditions of Superstudio. It doesn’t look like naked cities on a plain field, everyone doesn’t have long beards and long hair, but it is connected with the concept of the project of Superstudio. They could have celebrated their concept even more, and made it more radical. The reality of today has made that even more possible, and we should adjust our laws to facilitate it.

Almere oosterwold / MVRDV /

Almere oosterwold /​MVRDV /​flickr​.com

MVRDV has been working with specific topics like density, mixage and liberty. What do you think are the most urgent themes for urbanism in the future?

I do hope and think that we can make improvements by all means in our cities, by updating them and giving them more qualities, more density and turning them into more liveable pieces of the planet. How to do that is by a series of observations; firstly to write an agenda, secondly to organise and lead a financial system from taxes towards compensation tax and, thirdly to work on a wide range of operations that make those innovations possible. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that the solutions are already known, so the fourth thing that I would like to add to the operations is that we should establish a serious think tank and a laboratory together with technicians and thinkers on innovative ideas and innovative techniques. Then you have a package that would make cities better.

levitra vs viagra azithromycin uses buy cialis finasteride effets secondaires pfizer viagra coupons from pfizer viagra uk levitra without a doctor prescription cialis patent expiration cost of cialis viagra ohne rezept aus deutschland cialis without a doctor’s prescription finasteride vs dutasteride buy levitra azithromycin drug class ciprofloxacin hcl 500 mg side effects azithromycin 500 erfahrungen viagra substitute women viagra ciprofloxacin dosierung lexapro and weight loss azithromycin 250 is azithromycin side effects of cialis ciprofloxacin used for lexapro side effects men azithromycin without a doctor’s prescription finasteride and enlarged prostate what is azithromycin used for ciprofloxacin uses how to get off lexapro lexapro coupons cialis patent expiration date extended levitra 20 mg von bayer viagra en ligne livraison 24h finasteride 5mg side effects mayo clinic acyclovir dosing viagra single packs post finasteride syndrome viagra pills when will cialis go generic what is ciprofloxacin used for what is cipro cilias cialis generic availability what is finasteride lexapro vs wellbutrin viagra samples azithromycin 250 mg treatment acyclovir 800 mg finasteride 5 mg tab side effects of finasteride pfizer viagra lexapro dosage lexapro generic name viagra vs cialis vs levitra azithromycin class what is lexapro for viagra wiki azithromycin 250 mg how long for azithromycin to take effect escitalopram cialis 5 mg what infections does ciprofloxacin treat zithromax 500 mg lexapro generic viagra soft tamoxifen lawsuits buy cialis online azithromycin z pak zovirax pills cealis generic viagra 100mg acyclovir cream cialis 20mg what is tamoxifen used for finasteride results lexapro vs celexa cialis 10 mg side effects of tamoxifen finasteride what bacteria does ciprofloxacin kill celexa vs lexapro cialis for daily use viagra online canadian viagra viagra from canada 9 levitra at walmart ciprofloxacin eye drops azithromycin 500 mg viamedic cialis viagra tablet viagra 100mg tablets retail price levitra generic viagra for sale uk viagra cialis ciprofloxacin 500mg antibiotics side effects lexapro dosing viagra generico lexapro withdrawal symptoms buy generic levitra thuoc azithromycin lexapro for anxiety cialis on line lexapro benefits for women cialis coupons from manufacturer azithromycin 250mg tablets 6 pack sophia viagra what is lexapro used for cialis patent expiration 2017 escitalopram 10 mg para que sirve zoloft vs lexapro zithromax dosage levitra prezzo in farmacia ciprofloxacin side effects azithromycin azithromycin for strep throat acyclovir for cold sores viagra medicine acyclovir 800 mg for shingles best price viagra how does cialis work ciprofloxacin drops cialis discount viagra vs cialis ciprofloxacin dose cialis canadian pharmacy lexapro 10mg what does ciprofloxacin 500mg treat what is finasteride used for vardenafil 20mg revatio vs viagra viagra wikipedia common side effects of ciprofloxacin 500 mg escitalopram oxalate cialis vs viagra ciprofloxacin 250mg viagra coupon what does azithromycin treat herbal viagra first few days on lexapro tamoxifen therapy ciprofloxacin hcl 500 mg tab tamoxifen citrate levitra 20 mg cost walmart viagra for men levitra 20mg cost per pill ciprofloxacin 500mg antibiotics viagra bestellen canada cialis lexapro reviews generic levitra levitra dosage viagra generic cialis coupons finasteride medication what is acyclovir cialis for women what is cipro usually prescribed for finasteride for women azithromycin pregnancy viagra tablets levitra vs viagra buy viagra ciprofloxacin class withdrawal from lexapro lexapro dosages viagra price weaning off lexapro cialis dosage recommendations price cialis cialis from canada what is cipro used for cialis generic tadalafil erectile dysfunction cialis lexapro withdrawal cialis 20 mg cialis pills for sale ciprofloxacin 500 mg how does viagra work escitalopram nebenwirkungen lexapro and weight gain side effects of lexapro in women online cialis acyclovir for shingles escitalopram effets secondaires cialis azithromycin 5 day dose pack viagra 100 mg tamoxifen and weight gain acyclovir dose lexapro 20mg tamoxifen bijwerkingen azithromycine eg 500 mg bijsluiter cost of viagra viagra activate lexapro side effects in men azithromycin eye drops viagra tesco viagra sex viagra effects cialis tadalafil viagra pill cipro side effects viagra ohne rezept auf rechnung ciprofloxacin for dogs zovirax escitalopram side effects cialis coupon print cialis dosage zovirax ointment cialis dosage strengths generic cialis escitalopram 20 mg cialis side effects canadian cialis azithromycin vs erythromycin side effects of lexapro 10 mg what is ciprofloxacin prescribed for azithromycin tablet natural viagra tamoxifen side effects cialis 5mg finasteride hair loss lexapro side effects acyclovir ointment cipro dangers discount cialis over the counter viagra what does ciprofloxacin treat is azithromycin penicillin ciprofloxacin 500 mg for urinary tract infection generic cialis tadalafil side effects of finasteride 5mg azithromycin cost zithromax z-​pak acyclovir 800 mg 5 times a day ciprofloxacin nebenwirkungen wellbutrin and lexapro ciprofloxacin hydrochloride ophthalmic azithromycin dosage azithromycine levitra vs viagra for hardness effects of stopping lexapro suddenly female viagra cialis medication viagra pillen kruidvat cialis coupon acyclovir side effects cialis generic cialis coupons printable does lexapro cause weight gain ciprofloxacin coverage cialis price lexapro 5mg what does finasteride do azithromycin 250mg is lexapro a controlled substance lowest cialis prices levitra coupon sex viagra for women zovirax cream cialis voucher how long does viagra last cialis pharmacy prices how does lexapro work viagra on line no prec lexapro medication viagra without a doctor prescription usa ciprofloxacin 500mg tablets ciprofloxacin spc propecia azithromycin 500 cheap levitra viagra canada equipe argentine viagra levitra coupons azithromycin for uti lexapro 10 mg zovirax dosage liquid cialis acyclovir 400 mg cialis reviews tamoxifen side effects in women over 55 viagra 100 buy generic viagra side effects of lexapro cialis online cialis otc acyclovir ointment 5 escitalopram 10 mg antibiotic ciprofloxacin buy levitra online levitra erfahrungen how to wean off lexapro without withdrawals cialis pills how does acyclovir work is ciprofloxacin a penicillin what is escitalopram generic levitra vardenafil 20mg cialis free trial side effects of azithromycin 250 mg finasteride dosage finasteride 5 mg ciprofloxacin ophthalmic solution viagra alternatives ciprofloxacin dosage azithromycine 250 mg cialis 20mg directions lexapro vs zoloft ciprofloxacin side effects after age 60 how to use viagra generic cialis at walmart finasteride for hair loss cialis testimonials cialis alternative cipro uses generic viagra lexapro azithromycin for pneumonia what is acyclovir used for finasteride 5mg tab azithromycin coverage cialis canada azithromycin pregnancy category escitalopram 10mg cheap viagra cipro drug class acyclovir 400mg is tamoxifen chemotherapy zovirax for cold sores viagra natural ciprofloxacin bnf acyclovir medication azithromycin side effects acyclovir where to buy viagra ciprofloxacin 500mg tamoxifen viagra receptfritt finasteride reviews tamoxifen langzeitfolgen what is azithromycin for finasteride long term effects ciprofloxacin hydrochloride levitra 20mg cialas viagra costs viagra on line cyalis what is lexapro cialis savings card finasteride side effects viagra prices cipro dosage cialis samples overnight how much does cialis cost cipro side effects in elderly cialis samples generic lexapro levitra prices buying viagra what is viagra buy viagra online zithromax antibiotic side effects of viagra lexapro bula viagra 100mg online viagra what does viagra do side effects of acyclovir effects of stopping finasteride levitra 10 mg prezzo viagra without a doctor prescription how to take cialis viagra azithromycin pediatric dosing cipro 500 viagra vs cialis vs levitra tamoxifen cost cialis coupon 20 mg cialis prices levitra bayer 20mg meilleur prix canada viagra lexapro manufacturer website stopping lexapro acyclovir vs valacyclovir cialis for bph viagra alternative acyclovir 800mg levitra what is acyclovir for vardenafil vs viagra side effects of ciprofloxacin cialis pricing tamoxifen and bone pain finasteride permanent side effects finasteride side effects in men ciprofloxacin hcl how to wean off lexapro how long for lexapro to work cialis for sale cialis 5mg daily cialis professional cipro antibiotic free cialis azithromycin medscape cipro viagra dosage viagra for sale discount viagra lexapro weight gain ciprofloxacin side effects in women cialis cost 200 cialis coupon cialis cheap what works better than viagra azithromycin and alcohol azithromycin 500mg what is azithromycin daily cialis finasteride 1mg cipro and tendonitis side effects lexapro ciprofloxacin 500 utilisation viagra cipro for uti finasteride 5mg generic for lexapro cialis vs viagra viagra coupons viagra sans ordonnance tamoxifen and foods to avoid order viagra cialis website cipro antibiotics ciprofloxacin drug class cheap cialis cialis trial levitra online levitra 20 mg precio farmacia azithromycin tablets viagra vs cialis viagra 50mg azithromycin three times a week tamoxifen nebenwirkungen levitra rezeptfrei deutschland acyclovir 200mg acyclovir dosage for cold sores wholesale cialis cialis copay card free viagra cialis daily side effects of ciprofloxacin 500 mg tamoxifen interaction cialis sample what is cialis nolvadex viagra side effects viagra nebenwirkungen cialis for men viagra cost lexapro side effects in women lexapro para que sirve lexapro and wellbutrin combination therapy levitra 20 mg cialis coupons 2017 cialis or viagra propecia side effects cialis effects ciprofloxacin hcl 500 mg finasteride 5mg side effects acyclovir dosage ciprofloxacin tamoxifen side effects in women cialis 30 day trial coupon zithromax lexapro overdose side effects of azithromycin cialis 30 day sample ciprofloxacin 250 mg viagra kaufen finasteride tablets what is ciprofloxacin lexapro and weight gain in women viagra for women ciprofloxacin 500 mg tabletten finasteride efectos secundarios generic for cialis azithromycin liquid what is tamoxifen