Hong Kong: that is the world’s most densely populated city, an island of glistening skyscrapers, fashion and fast money, the most expensive real estate in the world against a backdrop of rugged mountains. Right? But the city also has a hidden life, on high and down below. Two fascinating books – as well as the ‘Homes for All’ video that Max Hirsh and Xiaoxuan Lu made for the digital magazine of my talkshow Stadsleven – shine a stark light on Hong Kong’s housing dilemma’s.
Built in 1917 by the chief government architect Daniel E.C. Knuttel for the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Industry and Trade in The Hague, the brick and stone building at Bezuidenhoutseweg 30 has been transformed by the Rotterdam-based Kaan Architecten into a home for five government-related planning and advisory agencies. I wrote an article for Architectural Record about how the once dark and heavy interiors of this national landmark are now light and transparent, and, in keeping with the changing times, B30, named after its address, is ready to facilitate an exchange of knowledge rather than the exercise of power.
I started this week in Barcelona, in the midst of the massive demonstrations of the Catelonia strike. Later this week, I was cohost of the charming Jord den Hollander at the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam (AFFR) and I interviewed Julia Gruen, executive director of the Keith Haring foundation for the special restauration of two Keith Haring graffiti works: one at the Stedelijk, and one secret one at the Foodhallen. Furthermore I saw a touching performance of Maartje Duin about the dementia of her father and ate with very special cuttlery at an experimental gastronomic dinner at the Lloyd Hotel.
On November 4th, 2016, I was awarded the Maaskantprijs 2016 by Mayor of Rotterdam Aboutaleb. This is a bi-annual prize for a person that stimulates the debate on architecture, landscape and urban design by publications, teaching or commissioning. That day I also launched the multimedia project ‘Tracy in Nederland‘ (Tracy in the Netherlands) that I developed with multimediaproducer Submarine, artist Jan Rothuizen and podcastmakers De Kostgangers. Part of the project is the essay The Dark Side of Urban Success designed by Hamid Sallali.