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In this edition of Reading Room Michelle Provoost and Wouter Vanstiphout examined the spatial implications of the immigration crisis. The fuss around the unexpected increase in refugees shows that Dutch cities are not adapted to a sudden influx of people as a structural fact of life. How can cities be better equipped to deal with significant demographic fluctuations? 

Vanstiphout and Provoost ‘read’ migration as an inevitable consequence of far-reaching globalisation and social flexibility. The city of the future will be the ‘city of comings and goings’. They emphasised that migration brings new energy and does not pose a threat to existing communities. Read the essay by Michelle Provoost and Wouter Vanstiphout. The English e-publication can be found here

Responses to Provoost’s and Vanstipout’s reading were provided by Maurits de Hoog, city planner at Amsterdam City Council; Esma Karkukli, architect at Foster + Partners, London; Merve Bedir, partner at Land+Civilization Compositions and Ron Hillebrand, general secretary of the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure for South Holland.

They and the audience brought various nuances to the discussion. The rules of social housing do not fit the needs of a city of comings and goings. There are long-term rental contracts that are ineffective against improper subletting via Airbnb, while groups of (temporary) immigrants with low incomes are subject to long housing delays. Another issue that was raised was that the ideal of the ‘open democratic society’ implies that migrants – whether refugees, expats or seasonal workers – should have a say in where they are allowed to settle.  

During this Reading Room models and drawings of the headquarters of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment in The Hague were displayed. This building, designed by Herman Hertzberger in the 1980s, is currently empty but is being refurbished to provide cohousing for refugees and students.

The displayed models can be viewed online via the search portal of Het Nieuwe Instituut. View the sketch design of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and the study for the expansion of the building. 

Michelle Provoost and Wouter Vanstiphout

Architectural historians Michelle Provoost and Wouter Vanstiphout are co-founders of Crimson Architectural Historians. Crimson designs, studies and writes about the urban environment, curates exhibitions, teaches and provides consultancy. As of 2008 Provoost has been director of the International New Town Institute (INTI) in Almere. Vanstiphout heads the course in Design as Politics in the Faculty of Architecture at Delft University of Technology

Reading Room

The Reading Room is a series of evenings exploring contemporary forms of reading. It is a place to decipher and interpret the world with its countless languages, signs and systems, including ideas and things that are hard to identify, let alone read. Guided by a researcher, designer or scholar, a small audience will reflect upon a text, a design, an object or a series of images. The Reading Room offers a forum for intimate and provocative discussions.

20:00 – 22:00

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam

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