Friso de Zeeuw director New Markets
Bouwfonds Ontwikkeling & lecturer Area Development at the Delft University of Technology

by Christa van Vlodrop

1. Background

Born in Rotterdam. Dutch law, specializing in constitutional and administrative law, studied at the ‘Vrije Universtiteit’ in Amsterdam. Started at an urban office. Then policy employee in Amsterdam, alderman of the city Monnickendam, consultant at Berenschot, provincial executive member of North Holland and since 1998 working for Bouwfonds Ontwikkeling. And since 2006 lecturer Area Development at TU Delft.

2. Why are you fascinated with
architecture / urban development?

So obvious that you don't really think about it anymore. But it started with an interest in the legal side of town and country planning, building, infrastructure, nature and landscape. Depending on where I was working, it developed different accents, sometimes more intense, sometimes less, but the magnetic pull was big in the broadest sense of the word.

3. Best city

Berlin. The history of that city, appeals to me. The politics of the 20th century, what has taken place in that century, that is best reflected in Berlin. We have an apartment there for the last 12 years. The city has become very popular, that can't be the intention ...

4. Most beautiful building

Then I immediately think of a building in the art deco atmosphere. Radio Kootwijk, the radio station that in the twenties of the last century was built for radiotelegrafisch contact with then-Dutch East Indies.

5. Most beautiful park or square

I think ‘Waterland’, where I live, a peat meadow landscape, unique to Netherlands, a beautiful type area. Rich nature, convenient location north of Amsterdam and, for many city dwellers a place for recreation. Metropolitan fetishists want to call it a ‘metropolitan park’, but that leads to all sorts of misunderstandings. It is a landscape that follows immediately after the hard outskirts of Amsterdam. You won't find areas like this much internationally.

6. Best public facility / urban infill

The ‘Mariaplaats’ in Utrecht and the ‘Marienplatz’ in Munich I find pleasant to stay. And yet I am not a Catholic … Worst public establishment: the entrance from the Central Station of Amsterdam. Taxi-chaos, traffic mess, Damrak is dirty and commom with wrong street furniture. Finally, they are working on an upgrade: we'll see.

7. Best 20th and 21st century innovations

Much innovation is in the small, in the ordinary, not in the world famous. The stairlift: the solution for housing for the elderly. Don't build special homes for the elderly, but make them suitable, for example with the stairlift.

8. Next groundbreaking innovation

Next ground-breaking innovation is probably not in the field of living. In The Netherlands we are conservative when it comes to living, I don’t see any changes coming soon. Not in question and not in demand. On the other hand, The Netherlands is ahead of there time in the field of technology. Perhaps a breakthrough for solar energy, which also affects the quality of living. Or yet, in the long term, the introduction of road pricing: is a form of technological and tax innovation and 'cultural renewal'.

9. About the future of cities

City and prosperity are not identical. Many cities outside the economic core zones, such as in East Germany, are struggling. Determinining whether a city is in a economic core zone, you can't change much as City Council. The spatial-economic dynamism is fairly autonomous. Polarization may well increase. Factors that can be influenced and that are important, are for example, the connections and existing infrastructure, the interaction between the institutes and Government companies, and the living and working environment. Bordeaux is a fine example of a city asleep but by deployment of an ambitious and energetic Mayor has been put back on the map. Also the connection to TGV-net has influenced the city greatly.

10. Personal contribution to urban development

My most concrete contribution was when I was a alderman.. Was really busy with projects. Now usually more at an abstract level: creative, as pioneer so that developments can take place. Trying, in these turbulent times to seperate meaning and the nonsense, and to make that meaning maneagebale for the people who have to do it. I try to ba a small guide.

11. Guerrilla in the city?

What I understand it to be is: or very sweet, such as urban agricultural or aggressive as graffiti. With both, I have nothing.