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ETH Zürich
Special Research Studio Oude Rijkswerf Willemsoord SS 2006
Chair of Architecture and Urban Design, Prof. Kees Christiaanse, Mark Michaeli, Thomas Kovari

Within the scope of “Special Research Studios” the Institute of Urban Design of the Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich focus on recent topics of Urban Design. Typical “situations”
of urban design are investigated by various exemplary research and design projects located all over
Europe. Embedded in their specific context these case studies are stimulating discussions of up-to-date
problems of the discipline.

Since 2003 the Institute of Kees Christiaanse at the ETH Zurich initiated numerous Special Research
Studios at various locations such as London, Istanbul, Zurich, Berlin, Rotterdam, Split, the Upper Rhine
Valley area in Switzerland/Austria. The institute runs as well thematically oriented research programs
e.g on international campus design. Developed in close contact to local stakeholders, some of the results
of these studios are contributing to programs and projects of the local planning authorities and actors.

The studios are organized as a combination of universities teaching and scientific survey program
with students and researchers in a twelve-week workshop, on-site field studies and seminaries with
experts and stakeholders. They are set up to provide a basis for the project run by students of architecture
and researchers of the ETH.
The aim of the project is rather the evaluation of strategic possibilities and necessities, which allow for
robust and flexible, though quality-oriented urban concepts for the future, than the development of
determined masterplans.

Four components – Inventory, Radical Scenarios, Proactive Concepts and Tests - blend into an “Educated Guess”,
representing and visualizing the options and obstacles in an ongoing process of cities’ evolution. Hence
this study does not put emphasis only on the formal aspects of Urban Design as a kind of cities “hardware”,
but integrates questions of use and program as well as legal situation and stakeholders interests, as the
“software” and “orgware” of the specific site.

In this series of research the site of the Oude Rijkswerf Willemsoord is of particular interest, since
it integrates two typical, almost controversial “situations”: “Waterfronts” and “Waiting Lands”.
Typically “Waterfronts” are sites with high potential for development due to their splendid location and
attractiveness, fuelled by the unique ambience of the abandoned harbour areas. On the other hand
“Waiting Lands” are kinds of “situations”, which are characterized by a momentary absence of any need
for urban development. Thus designs for Waiting Lands require sensible strategies for the protection of
valuable existing qualities, implementation of temporary uses (Zwischennutzungen) and a gradual melioration
of the site. However, this fallow land does not only put a risk on urban developments, but can act as a
valuable wild card for the future evolution of the city.

The concept of “simultaneous chess” (simultaan schaken) proposed by the ETH, mirrors this multilayered
complexity of this particular space. As a catalogue of possibilities, strategies, typologies, timetables
and stakeholders it is rather a critical collection and setup of aspects, which can incubate and promote
each other in a positive way. The process of cities reconstruction thus can be launched at various points,
merging into a greater concept for the area and the city.

Thus the careful handling of the unique and precious Oude Rijkswerf terrain is of utmost importance
for the City of Den Helder. As a main attraction in the city and the region it may act as a magnet
for new temporary and permanent user groups, and help to distinguish the cities’ image. In close cooperation
of various groups of stakeholders representing the plenitude of interests, innovative concepts for the
future use and urbanity of the area can be invented and promote

Exhibition Preview
Triade Centrum voor Kunsteducatie Den Helder

Opening Lecture
Kees Christiaanse
3.10.2006 20.00h

-- MarkMichaeli - 26 Sep 2006

Revision r1.4 - 29 Sep 2006 - 10:23 - MarkMichaeli Professur Kees Christiaanse, Institut für Staedtebau, Netzwerk Stadt und Landschaft

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