Wienke Bodewes
CEO Amvest

by Christa van Vlodrop

1. Background

Studied Urban Design at the Delft University of Technology. Started at the Municipality of Rotterdam as a member of the Q & Q team, then head of the Urban Recovery, Spatial Planning and Urban Renewal Department and subsequently became director of Consultation. Then member of the Management Board of housing corporation Ymere , Development portfolio. Since 2007 I am CEO of Amvest, a developer and investor: a leader in developing and managing housing and residential areas in The Netherlands.

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

One of the best aspects of architecture and urban planning, developing it in any form, is the result of making a solid contribution, a creation you can see. The quality of use, functionality and beauty come together.

3. Best city

Best city is often the last city where you've been. If you visit cities professionally, you learn to analyze a city quickly. Each city has its own secrets, every city has something special. Middle sized towns, I like the most: they are quick to understand, after a second visit or second day the town feels very familiar. But there is nothing like New York City: the dynamics of the city coupled with the familiarity, one of the most photographed and filmed cities in the world, partly because it's like you know all the places yourself. It is also a city with a not very dominant culture, you find your way soon.

4. Most beautiful building

There are so many ‘beautiful’ buildings. You must see a building in it's context. The Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, for example, in Hong Kong by Foster or the Tate Modern in London, both in the old and now in the new function. A building which is only an icon in itself, appeals to me less.

5. Most beautiful park or square

Perhaps a cliché, but the Piazza del Campo in the center of Siena. When I, long ago now, first visited Siena, I did not know it is such a famous square. A balanced square: the shape, the colors, the materials and the scale of it. The most attractive park, has still to be realized. We forgot to think in the long term. You can create beautiful things, but you have to wait for the result. A park should be made in the tradition of sustainability.

6. Best public facility / urban infill

Residential areas that are park-like in character, such as Port Sunlight, an English garden village. William Hesketh Lever, the owner of Sunlight soap factory, established a residential neighborhood in 1888 for his factory workers in a landscaped park with height differences. The soap factory is still there as a matter of fact.

7. Best 20th and 21st century innovations

The bicycle. The safety bike, is where it all started. The perfection of the bicycle occurred in the early 1900's. The range of people was increased, it was first associated with systems that were fixed. The bicycle was a luxury, but slowly became a commodity. Look at China 20 years ago, where the bike was of great economic importance. The bike has become a kind of cult status, not only through sport. But we are back to the old 'sparse' bike, the direct drive bicycle. The bicycle renews itself constantly.

8. Next groundbreaking innovation

Consider the development of life extension of man. Increasingly larger groups of people will get older. The technique to prolong this will take on more extended forms. Inventions will be made so that the motion devices of your body will endure longer (non declining bones) related to fighting dementia, the decline of the brains. So independence is guaranteed. How to keep the brains young?

9. About the future of cities

Understanding urban and rural areas is no longer maintained at this time. The term city will cover whole areas. The Netherlands will become a city with very big parks. Whole areas, especially in the delta, which in its totality will have an urban character. Transport is becoming less of an issue, because the virtual world is being filled. You can be connected to NY, without living there. There is a kinship with the world through the written word, photos, pictures and movies. This is both positive and negative (eg 'contamination' of the financial markets for example).

10. Personal contribution to urban development

I think it is very important that the urban planning profession, in all its dimensions, is seen as a serious profession: the recognition of the discipline of urban planning, it is a skill. It goes beyond fashion images or ‘dealers in illusion’. I fulfill a number of other positions, including: chairman of the board of NEPROM, chairman of the board SWK, chairman of the board of Stichting Het Nieuwe IJ and boardmember of ARCAM.

11. Guerrilla in the city?

I have very little association with this.