Urban Planner

As a urban planner I work with vacant or ‘not used’ buildings and grounds that are temporary available, often due strategic purchasing policies for future developments, real estate speculation or shrinkage of local populations. Although sometimes invisible, empty building and grounds occur in all cities, worldwide. Their appearance and how it’s allowed to be used, is strongly influenced by politics and policy. In cities exists on the same hand a specific yet dynamic desire or need for housing groups like: artists, refugees, students, divorced parents, expats, startups, etc.

In these projects, the building or ground is the starting point, it’s lay-out, condition and neighborhood decide how it can be developed. Underlying goals are to use the potential of what is already there, technically recycle the building, create a self-sustainable, empowered group of residents, and work with a ‘down to earth’, realistic calculation. This results in a mini-society; affordable cooperate living, mixed with creative organizations, artist-studio’s and businesses that interact with the neighborhood. Temporary social and creative breeding grounds arise instead of leaving places empty, this is where I feel that I ‘make’ the city, not as an traditional designer or developer but as participatory programmer working with community and disused parts of the city.

My process begins as initiator, I become the designer and write the plan and calculation, select the residents and make sure the project develops into a self-sustainability community. I function for the community as project-manager, mom and dad, friend or enemy and whatever is required to make it work.

Since 20I2 till 2023, I worked on these kinds projects at CareX, a spin-off organization from the squatters-movement in the 80’s and 90’s that houses approximately 4500 people and practices in 350 empty building like, schools, warehouses, farms or offices. Because of special circumstances, 12 projects are labeled as ‘broedplaatsen’, in dutch or ‘breeding grounds’ and are developed with more attention and investments. This is done by me within dynamic teams. In 2009, I founded with other artists the Art Indeed Foundation and initiated and organized +/- 150 temporary artist-studio’s and several art-spaces in empty buildings. Previously as part of HaViK Groningen and now independently or with partners, Art Indeed is still working to create space for artists.

As founder and participant in several bottom up initiatives, I am at the moment helping citizen initiatives to get a better position in the political landscape and society.