The Eye Museum in Amsterdam-Overhoeks, the Spuiforum in The Hague, Tivoli in Utrecht. Local political leaders, real estate developers, urban planners and architects are eager to add new icons to the urban landscape, in the hope that they will be a catalyst for urban development – a building that improves the surrounded area physically, economically, and socially. But are there any recipes for success? And are those icons rooted in the local identity?
Cities have always presented themselves through image-building projects. Think of the Tower of Babylon, the Coliseum, and the Eiffel Tower. Also over the last few decades, many new flagship buildings have been developed worldwide, such as the Opera House in Sydney or the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. They had a huge impact on the economic and cultural development of the city.
Many cities aspire to imitate the success of the Guggenheim Museum. But what do the stories of the new city centre of Almere, the Blob in Eindhoven, the Market Hall in Rotterdam or the plans for a new concert vanue in The Hague tell us? The Concepts into Concrete (Betoog en Beton) documentary presents the stories around iconic urban projects and reveals the underlying research of transforming urban identities.In this documentary both architects, urban designers en local politicians discuss their stories of success and failure as well as how citizens experience those prestigious and remarkable architectural projects.
Following the screening of Concepts into Concrete we welcome the filmmaker Hans Busstra and researcher Wouter Jan Verheul for a discussion, commentary and questions from the audience. Wouter Jan Verheul is the author of ‘Stedelijke Iconen. Het ontstaan van beeldbepalende projecten tussen betoog en beton’, in which he goes beyond the façades of iconic architecture to show the underlying tensions between politicians, architects and developers. Maria Kaika, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Amsterdam, will give a mini-lecture to provide an academic context to the themes of the film. Her research involves the urbanisation of nature in London, Athens and New York, and on ethnographic research on the actors and power relations involved in the development of EU environmental policies. Her related work on urban infrastructures and iconic spaces interprets the ‘banalisation’ of old and proliferation of new urban infrastructures and buildings as the manifestations of periods of crisis and change in the imaginary institutions that hold societies together.