In collaboration with Architecture History students from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam we were asked to develop a cultural comment on the urban development in the Amsterdam Zuidas. This area, originally meant as an commercial district, was now been made ready for residents. Our projects should be part of the gentrification process.
But all culture aside, I was fascinated by the way nature was treated on the Zuidas. The planners of the Zuidas had given shape to the most modern view on the relationship between man and nature– and I can tell you, it’s interesting to say the least.
One example that triggered me were the trees on the Zuidplein. Originally, there weren’t any. But as unpleasant drafts developed along the square and inside the underground bicycle parking, soon it was decided the square needed trees in order to solve this turbulence. Only problem was, that with this underground parking there was no soil to plant them in.
And this was then solved by installing 40 massive 3 cubic meter concrete flower pots for each tree. The soil in those planters is monitored by sensors which are wired to a computer that directly controls the watering of the pot.
Inspired by this example I pitched the concept of abstracting nature by indexing it on its functionality only.
I teamed up with Sander Sturing from my class, and Martijn van Beek and Niels Bakker from the VU who provided us with the historical context. We started to develop a way of navigating this environment. Artificial and natural objects were indexed on their capacity to fulfill our specific needs and entered into a database. This video documents an installation we used to visualize the concept of abstracting nature by indexing it on its functionality only. An extreme point of view, taken to highlight the level of cultivation the new to be cosmopolis of Amsterdam, the Zuidas, aspires.