After the war, Utrecht was dealing with housing shortages, but also a lack of space for the growing number of private cars. These were solved by developing new urban areas, of which Overvecht is one. Overvecht was planned according to the trends of modernism and functionalism, resulting in strictly separated commercial, living, working and recreational areas, and a stark contrast between high-rise buildings and the landscape in which they are built. This efficiency-oriented design left little room for aesthetics and healthy social interaction.
Compare Overvecht to the old city centre of Utrecht. The old city grew slowly and organically, and was built by its people. Therefore, it reflects desires and wishes of many individuals and of many times. Overvecht on the other hand, was developed at one specific point in time by architects and urban planners: “the experts”. Therefore, it reflects visions of a few and of one point in history, and is therefore not resilient to changing circumstances, trends, wishes and desires. Overvecht is now called a probleemwijk.
So instead of the architects and urban planners sitting around the drawing table, drawing on an empty sheet of paper, we want to invite the real experts to the table: those inhabiting Overvecht. This will be a project of the many, not of the few.
So, can we somehow give the people from Overvecht an empty sheet again, and have them redraw their own neighbourhood? Well, not really of course: Overvecht is not an empty sheet anymore. But we can improvise. Let’s see the existing city as a new empty sheet. Think about all the under- or unutilized green spaces, the flat roofs of buildings and houses, the empty garages on the ground floors of high-rise buildings, the large number of space assigned to cars in the form of roads and parking lots. And instead of reflecting only the desires and wishes of today, let’s make Overvecht flexible, so we still love it in 2050, 2150 and even in the year 2525. A bright future for Overvecht is projected.
Just like anyone passing by our art object, reflecting a drawing table, may change it anytime, anyone living in Overvecht may change it anytime.