The churches are almost empty, but religion is undergoing a comeback in the city. One example is Kleiklooster, a modern-day ‘monastery’ in the 60’s apartment block Kleiburg in the Bijlmer. I met with one of the founders, Johannes van der Akker, who will also be a guest in my live talkshow Stadsleven on Sept. 27th. And… they also brew beer!
All over the world, cities are trying to take back public space from the car. Barcelona has invented the ‘superblock’, where through traffic is banned to make space for playgrounds and gardens. I went to see the superblock in the neighborhood Poble Nou. Where four lanes of through traffic used to drive, there are now gardens, benches and playgrounds. “All cities should try this”, says neighborhood resident Silvia Casorran.
The Portuguese city of Porto was European Cultural Capital in 2001, and one of the projects that spawned was the Casa da Música by Rem Koolhaas’ OMA. It took longer than expected – it didn’t open until 2005 – and it went way over budget, from 31 million euro’s to 111 million. But the result is spectacular, combining hard materials like concrete, glass and aluminium with soft surfaces like the Noridc pine wallsof the main hall with goldleaf motifs and the lovely wavy glass wall around it. One thing did surprise me: the Soviet-style furniture along the walls. Watch my vlog and judge for yourself!
The Belgian capital of Brussels has upped its cultural offerings with Kanal Brussel, a new contemporary arts center in collaboration with Centre Pompidou in Paris. Kanal is housed in an enormous former Citroen garage, I spoke with director Yves Goldstein about how kanal showcases Belgian art and asked him: what’s in it for the Pompidou? He also showed the winning entry by architects NOA/EM2N/SERGISON BATES, the result of an international competiton, for the renovation of the 38,000-square-meter ‘glass cathedral’ Art Deco building.
For the first time ever, the Vatican was represented at the 2018 Venice Architecture bienniale. On the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, an oasis of tranquillity just one vaporetto stop from San Marco square, ten architects from various countries were invited to build their idea of what a modern-day chapel could be.
Dutch designer Joris Laarman has gained international fame with his designs in which he uses innovative technology to create objects of great beauty: functional esthetics. His newest project is a 3D printed bridge of steel, a technique he invented himself, for one of Amsterdam’s medieval canals. I went to talk to him and see the bridge under construction in his workplace at the former NDSM-shipyard in the north of the city.