Out now, our new version of the City at Eye Level series. The City at Eye Level is not only a book, but also an open-source learning network and a programme for improving cities, streets and places all over the world. Order the City at Eye Level in The Netherlands on Shopify.
In early 2012 we launched a project that would become The City at Eye Level: Lessons for Street Plinths. In the book, we collected stories from theory and practice about how to ensure that buildings contribute to better public space by maintaining a human scale and a good, active ground floor: the ‘plinths’ of the building. With our network, we tried to find answers to the question of how to create a good city at eye level. Our work was interdisciplinary and we looked at the physical, the programmatic and the organisational sides of the issue.
Using our own expertise and that of the network, The City at Eye Level quickly became an open source project with dozens of authors all over the world. Indeed, the network expanded thanks to the website thecityateyelevel.com, training sessions, lectures and conferences. Collaborative efforts with partners such as the Project for Public Spaces, UN-Habitat, Gehl Architects, cities, developers and many major and minor initiatives from society were a constant source of new inspiration.
The international Placemaking Week in October 2017 in Amsterdam, which we organised with our partners the Project for Public Spaces, Pakhuis de Zwijger, Placemaking Plus and the municipality of Amsterdam was an excellent occasion to put together the book “The City at Eye Level in the Netherlands” – this book gives a taste of the many things happening right now to improve the quality of public space, maintain a human scale and create more of a sense of place (placemaking).
The Netherlands is a country with a rich tradition in planning. The Dutch economy slowed down in recent years. This had an impact on the development of cities. Parties that traditionally played a pioneering role were given a more modest one. A multitude of new, often smaller parties filled the gap and developed temporary and permanent initiatives to strengthen the cities. There were also parties among the municipalities and developers who came up with new, innovative approaches. Many of these stories, from the Netherlands and from other countries, can be found in the first two City at Eye Level books and on the website. Together these parties have helped to give new impetus for the city. These are open source books and can be downloaded at http://www.thecityateyelevel.com.
The strengthening of the cities in the Netherlands is continuing unabated. Governments, developers, the large and small new parties who have emerged in recent years, remain active. Challenges and strategies are changing. Many new, small-scale initiatives have entered the arena. The challenge is how to retain and further develop successful initiatives. How can we use them as a foundation for area development and an urban approach aimed at a more human scale and sense of place? How will cities benefit from the rise in construction activity? Will there be space for new initiators, small and large? And how can you effectively manage successful initiatives so that they continue to grow sustainably? This book compiles examples from medium-sized and large cities in the Netherlands. We have arranged the stories according to the following themes:
- Introduction: Overall observations on the city at eye level in the Netherlands. Fred and Ethan Kent, Floris van Alkemade, Charlot Schans, and Hans Karssenberg and Jeroen Laven take us with them.
- The urban scale: Journeys on the scale of the city and/or city centre: A new impetus: from Leeuwarden to Maastricht, from The Hague to Doetinchem.
- Area development: New approaches to areas covering infrastructure, water and other strategic urban places.
- Plinths, places and zealous nuts: Zealous nuts are people with a poor sense of what is apparently impossible, a badge of honour in placemaking. People who make the impossible possible. A number of special projects, from Rotterdam to Amsterdam and from Zaanstad to Dordrecht.
- Take action now: Recent new methods for working on a good city at eye level and their application. From funding to new-build, from sidewalk to picnic.
- Reflections: Unifying reflection on the stories in this book by Wouter-Jan Verheul.
Order the City at Eye Level in The Netherlands on Shopify.