Het Nieuwe Instituut has recently acquired the archive of WiMBY!, a project initiated by Crimson Architectural Historians and Felix Rottenberg to raise the standard of the large-scale restructuring of the post-war neighbourhood Hoogvliet in Rotterdam. This project differed from other urban renewal projects in the Netherlands in its unconventional approach: socially inspired, bottom-up and with a focus on social and spatial infrastructure.
Hoogvliet, a modernist-inspired neighbourhood built for workers in the petrochemicals industry, is a typical 1950s neighbourhood: mono-functional and with a decentralised structure, it suffers from an image problem, a high crime rate and high incidence of drug abuse. The restructuring brief in Hoogvliet is exemplary of many urban conditions throughout the world, making WiMBY! above all “an examination of the possibilities of all the other towns, satellite cities, Trabantstädte, garden cities, villes nouvelles and ‘groeikernen’ built in the twentieth century.
In 2001, Rotterdam’s GroenLinks councillor Herman Meijer commissioned Crimson Architectural Historians (Michelle Provoost, Wouter Vanstiphout, Simone Rots and Annuska Pronkhorst) and Felix Rottenberg to transform Hoogvliet into a lively neighbourhood via a large-scale restructuring.
One of the biggest obstacles to contemporary urban planning is the NiMBY (Not in My Backyard) phenomenon. It is the fear among city dwellers of collectivity, of everything that is strange and new. WiMBY! (Welcome into My Backyard) is the motto of a new design and organisational culture that seeks out complexity to find new solutions. It represents an urban ethics that sees changes and additions as a potential source of enrichment for residents.
The archive contains materials from the many urban planners and architects involved, including Maxwan, Kees Christiaanse, Bjarne Mastenbroek and Liesbeth van der Pol, Palmboom and Van den Bout, H+N+S, DUS architecten, 24 H, Van BergenKolpa, NL Architects, Onix and FAT, and the many other stakeholders and players, ranging from political decision-makers and corporate directors to residents.
The WiMBY! archive is interesting for the collection of Het Nieuwe Instituut because of three areas of focus in its collecting policy.
City and Urbanity
The project is illustrative of the need for transformation in post-war neighbourhoods and is unique in the Netherlands in terms of its scale, complexity and duration. The approach in Hoogvliet differed from other similar projects in its investigation of the identity of existing structures, both spatial and social. The importance of WiMBY!’s working method resides in (small-scale) interventions that are of importance for the greater whole. WiMBY! also realised projects on an urban-planning scale: the project Logica, an urban-planning guidebook, which brought spatial cohesion to various projects (MaxWan); de Groene Voegen, an integral plan for the public realm (H+N+S and Palmboom) and Heerlijkheid Hoogvliet, designed by FAT.
Prosperity and Wellbeing
In Hoogvliet WiMBY! realised innovative typologies in the fields of housing, schools and cultural buildings, including three co-housing projects for new collective housing forms for musicians and an eco group, a series of ‘school – parasites’ and the ‘postmodern’ Villa Heerlijkheid Hoogvliet, which contains an branch of Lantaren-Venster and a multi-functional cultural centre. In partnership with Dutch and foreign architects and urban planners, WiMBY! also developed a new housing estate, a park and schools, and organised festivals and a series of events.
WiMBY! is illustrative of a new participatory working method and a ‘bottom-up’ approach, of the complexity of the (design) process in urban regeneration after 1995 (privatisation of corporations), the consultation process with stakeholders and the altered role of architects and urban planners in this process. WiMBY! is an independent, flexible and, above all, atypical organisation that carries out construction work within the framework of architecture (history) and urban planning.
Quotes taken from the WiMBY! website.