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Landscape architecture and urban design in the netherlands
Landscape architecture is the most interesting thing to me. I always thought that it was a bit “uninteresting” but everything I do seems to create a lot of problems which are quite difficult to handle.
Recently, I’ve been designing some street furniture in my own neighborhood (Figure 1, Figure 2) and it’s quite interesting to see how people react to the designs. Although some of them may be perfectly fine, most of the reactions are nothing else but negative (Figure 3). I know that this is a fact that every designer has to deal with but it can be quite strange to be criticized for such a simple thing. I always thought that a street furniture is not that difficult to make and I really find it quite surprising that it can make so much difference in other people’s eyes.
I had a look at some street furniture design guidelines. Most of them are very strange to me. They have to do with security and “contamination”, dealing with street animals and other stupid stuff. If they would really worry about those topics, then there would be no public space and nothing could be built, like any workplace or farm.
Furthermore, they are obsessed with the walls. How can they be anything else but “walls”? They should be kept clean and everyone knows that one of the key issues in urban design is the relationship between buildings and street and the lack of street (no private balconies etc). So how come there are no street furniture guidelines to make this impossible?
I would like to show you some of the “reaction” I’m getting to my designs. It can be quite fun to notice that all of them are exactly the same. It’s like a script or something.
1. “You need to do it now you don’t have the skills” (Figure 4).
This one is also quite shocking. Now you know why I hate this one. The quality of the street furniture, how it looks, how it functions. All these elements can be improved by means of a bit more knowledge, design skill and, of course, time. Most of the designs I make are made in only one day, I just design them (do not ask for comments) and the things are produced. I don’t have any skills in brickwork, welding or any other craft for that matter.
As soon as the people of the town hear that I’m the designer, they usually start pressuring me to make it better than that. They are eager to bring their new friend to places like IKEA and make the most fantastic stuff there. And how is that possible? The first reaction is that I have to get my own stuff. OK, I’m working on it, but by then it’s too late. Besides that, you have to think of the economic situation of the country. If I would actually make the stuff, then my country would be responsible for paying the cost. You can’t buy all of the stuff that you would really want. We also have a limited number of skilled workers and designers. That’s also another reason why I don’t care so much about other people’s opinions. At the end of the day, I would have more time to think about the designs and do them better, which is what really counts.
However, to me, this is one of the most fascinating reactions. The sad part is that this person is also the one, who, in all probably, should be the first one I call for help.
2. “You must make it better then that (Figure 5)”
And I’m being pressured for some sort of development or just to improve some aspect of the design (the color, material, costs). I’m curious, but at the same time, I’m fed up to it. This is a very easy advice, but I can see, how it might not work for me. Just to make things better is, of course, a matter of time, but for me, this is never enough. The next reaction is the worst one for me.
3. “You have to make it different you have no idea (Figure 6)”
This is something I’m used to but it still shocks me every now and then. I’m a born entrepreneur. I can’t be 100% sure about all my designs but I usually find myself in the discussion, which could be said to be a quite healthy way of living. Also, I’m always open to improvement. As I always like to improve myself, the discussion would be the best place to think about that. The fact that a colleague reacts with that (his reaction is actually quite different) is always a surprise. When I’m