Dromen op de bowlingbaan van een beter lot

Dromen op de bowlingbaan van een beter lot

“Pff, die Freddy Mamani ís helemaal geen architect”, zegt de professor met een wegwuifend gebaar, ,,hij is decorateur”. Inderdaad, de kakelbonte zelfverzonnen bouwsels van autodidact Mamani – ‘de Gaudí van de Andes’- vallen bij academici niet in de smaak. Maar de bevolking van zijn woonplaats El Alto, na La Paz de tweede stad van Bolivia, vindt zijn knoertegrote danspaleizen in ‘psychedelisch barokke’ stijl geweldig. Niet in de laatste plaats omdat Mamani een Indiaan is, een Aymara, en zijn succes laat zien dat je als Aymara in Bolivia wel degelijk iets kunt bereiken.

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Hong Kong’s hidden life

Hong Kong’s hidden life

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.

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House of the Witches’ Hats

House of the Witches’ Hats

I’ve been coming to Barcelona regularly now for about eight years. Our balcony looks out over Gaudi’s Pedrera (‘the ant hill’, we call it), the Sagrada Familia in the distance and in between a gingerbread castle-like building with six pointy towers that we dubbed ‘The House of the Witches’ Hats’. But only now have I seen it from the inside.

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Cold and dark: on board Scott’s polar ship Discovery

Cold and dark: on board Scott’s polar ship Discovery

We all know Captain Robert Falcon Scott as one of the tragic heroes of the heroic age of polar exploration: in 1912 he reached the South Pole, only to discover that the Norwegian Amundsen had beaten him to it. Scott and his companions did not survive the return trip. Scott’s polar career had already started in 1901, when he set off on a scientific expedition in the legendary ship the Discovery.

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New V&A museum voor Scottish design in Dundee

New V&A museum voor Scottish design in Dundee

The V&A Museum in London is opening a new museum next year specially for Scottish design, in the coastal city Dundee, the fourth largest city of Scotland. The huge building on the river Tay is the outcome of an international competition won by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who is also designing Tokyo’s Olympic stadium for 2020. The V&A is also one of the founding institutions of a new design museum, Design Society, which is to open this October in the Chinese city of Shenzen.

At a cost of £81 million pounds the new V&A Dundee is already 80 per cent over budget, and will open four years later than anticipated. No wonder the museum is not yet giving a date for the opening next year. Nevertheless, it is the linchpin of Dundee’s regeneration through culture and the arts, together with its lively scene for the creators of video games. Dundee is now a serious contender for the European Cultural Capital of 2023. ‘The ugly-duckling city comes of age’, was the headline of a piece in The Times in July.

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Amsterdam Worldwide First: A Cycling Mayor

Amsterdam Worldwide First: A Cycling Mayor

For Harvard Graduate School of Design I wrote a blog about the cycling mayor in Amsterdam. 

Urban cycling is all the rage in cities nowadays. For tourists it’s a fun way of seeing the city, for locals in cities that are not used to bikes it is a form of transport activism. In Amsterdam, it’s utilitarian; biking is simply the cheapest and quickest way to get around. Not in lycra, but in high heels or a business suit, or with groceries in front and a child in back.

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