Although experiencing the great need for temporary adaptive reuse projects in Phoenix, Arizona, I might say that I didn’t expect The Netherlands to require such measures to activate their urban spaces.
I’ve been living in one example of temporary use: a shipping container apartment complex. It may be obvious to some, but the benefit of constructing with shipping containers is that they can be deconstructed with ease and located elsewhere: the perfect modular (and recycled) unit for building on a lot lacking permanent, long-term use. International student housing (including these shipping containers) is not known for it’s architectural design or complete comfort; however, with the gap in the housing stock, temporary construction can be a perfectly adequate solution. Still remaining is the question of toxicity levels that may persist from past uses, certainly something that should be addressed with the increasingly ubiquitous use of shipping containers.
Another superb example of the shipping container life is part of in the Ebbingekwartier in Groningen, The Netherlands. This weekend (Sept. 20-21), it will play host to the final Creative City Challenge conference with urban planners, architects, community organizers and more from all over the EU. The focus this year is creative temporary uses. As part of an international effort (driven by policy and grassroots initiatives), this space has utilized modular shipping containers to help shape the contemporary yet temporary space, housing a school, café, and offering a canvas for graffiti artists. Earlier in the month there were film screenings and, until the weather gets too cold, it functions as an outdoor meeting place.
Groningen has worked on its city identity and worked to brand itself as a center of culture and knowledge in The Netherlands. The identity of this space certainly can add to this effort. Alongside policy, the incremental efforts of the surrounding community have made this an activated place. The case of Phoenix, did not have as much policy backing as Groningen supplied.
How much does policy play a part in helping to activate temporary spaces?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.