Koen Vermeulen

Koen Vermeulen


Een veerkrachting Zoetermeer

Zoetermeer is a beautiful city that is bursting with qualities. For example, you can happily grow up there as a child due to the many so-called bloemkoolwijken (‘cauliflower neighbourhoods’ - residential areas with a ‘cauliflower-like’ structure characterised by a maze-like grouping of cul-de-sacs and small courtyards) with restricted car access, the Groene Hart (Green Heart) nature area is just around the corner and you can reach the entire Randstad conurbation within 45 minutes.

However, these so-called New Towns are facing a number of social and spatial problems, including the ageing population, housing obsolescence and large sections of unsafe public space. If Zoetermeer wants to deal with these problems, the city will have to adapt. This is a new phenomenon for Zoetermeer; the city is regarded as being ‘completed’ and the effect of this is that every change to the status quo results in a profusion of suburban resistance. Consequently, the current policy opts for the path of least resistance, as a result of which quality no longer prevails.

A resilient city fulfils three aspects: the city is adaptable to meeting changing needs through all life phases for all target groups, economically vital and has a robust structure. By making intelligent use of the qualities and thus tackling the problems, a city can be made of Zoetermeer that is able to change within a robust structure and anticipate changing needs.

In order to achieve this, use needs to be made of the three major qualities of Zoetermeer:

1. Zoetermeer city streets: exploit the amazing accessibility of the city!
In this way, the orientation in the city can be improved, new residential environments for young people, first-time buyers and senior citizens can be added, and a direct, spatial connection can be created between the city and the landscape.

2. Groene Hart Park (Green Heart Park): the landscape as new face for the city!
By strengthening the connection with the landscape, the balance between city and landscape can be preserved.

3. Real suburban living: focus on the wonderful suburban living in the city!
In this way, the bloemkoolwijken (cauliflower neighbourhoods) will be given a new dynamism, economic opportunities for growth will be created in the residential districts and the housing supply will be diversified for various target groups.

A resilient Zoetermeer is a plea for a tailored approach to the urban design and a call to urbanists and architects to discover, clarify and, above all, exploit the existing qualities of our New Towns.

Graduation committee: Huub Juurlink (mentor), Franz Ziegler and Ivan Nio. Extra members for the examination: Riëtte Bosch and Herman Zonderland.

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