Looks like the people living in the city or just visiting it frequently (most of the tourist are habitual visitors, they know what they are coming for to Wenduine) very appreciate the small (walkable) scale and the idealistic calm atmosphere of the town. And even if all the respondents claims – the sea is the main treasure and attraction, they mention the greenery, nature and the polders as even more relaxing and valuable.
The paradox is that almost all the interviewed persons presented themselves as tolerant and open people, while picturing the Others as very conservative and closed. Naturally it raises me a question, what’s the reason for such a contradiction? Does that mean that habitants do not know each others? Or it just shows the described feature to stay very private “ in their own garden” ?
Considering the fact that without beach there is no informal public spaces in the city, I make the presumption that the lack of possible interaction spaces creates the social and mental distances between the neighbours. As it was mentioned by the citizens itself (Nicolas), flemish people needs time for changes. For mental ones as well as for the physical ones. I can see the clearly expressed need for the intermediate spaces between the personal-private and formal-public.
Belgian sea-coast is made up mainly of small scale recreational towns. Contrary to the local government’s efforts to keep those (e.g. de Haan) cities in the frame of the traditional description of the small cute town (I disagree – faceless places looses the charm), the cities are occupied by the elderly retired seniors, upper income and rich people (second residences), foreign and in-land tourists, traditional wealthier families. The idea of Wenduine as the suburban settlement does not meet the definition as well. It is not the outcome of the sprawl, Wenduine even generates some sprawl around itself. Looking back in time, around 1180 Wenduine first originated as the small settlement of poor but brave and fearless fishermen. “Met harpoen, zonder pardoen” – facing the sea, the feeding mother and the merciless nature.
This direction stayed per ages. Wenduine is “one-direction” city, facing the main value. Sea is the economic engine till now. There are 220 000 tourist coming per year (den Haan – Wenduine, city council data) and the prices of the real estate in the coastal area are one of the highest in the country. It makes the first line at the beach very expensive yet in high demand. The city’s urban fabric is arranged according to the sea line : from highly compact to wide spread on the other side. The concentration of activities and services as well as the intensity of consumers decreases towards polders.
Here comes the problem of infinity: there are no guidelines, so the city theoretically could extend limitless. Taking it more global, all the limitless scenario cities at the certain moment would merge thus eliminating the distinction between urban and non-urban. Loosing the variety and character is a huge damage leading to faceless homogeneous anthropogenic landscapes. How could it be avoided? The appreciated sea-front on one side and the other-attractive-front on the other side?
The second problem is the “ back seats” effect: the attraction of the North sea is so strong, that it even makes the last zones of the city to face the imaginary seacoast, leaving everything what is behind it irrelevant. In this case the green polders stays in the backstage. Is it the time to show up the potential that is under the curtain?
The third issue could be called the “framed picture”. The tendency to have a garden and to take are of it is easy to spot in Wenduine. People naturally prefer to live in the green environment, for this reason they tend to create it. Usually it is necessary, but in this particular situation there should be remarked the paradox of fencing against the greenery and creating the small compensations inside the property. It could be compared to the looking at the framed picture of the flower n the wall when outside there is the full garden of thousands of flowers. Why can’t the esthetical potential of the polders be more effective? It could visually become the part of the private yard, thereby extending the physical and the mental spaces.
- Design strategy reorients the “city theatre” : it suggests the new frontier on the polder side. This design solution brings the balance and the guidance for the city’s development.
- The Greencoast opposites the Seacoast withal shares similar qualities : aesthetical beauty (open view and far horizon, artistic inspiration..), psychological comfort ( natural element ), emotional stimulus ( changes depending on the weather, season- calm, vulnerable, relaxing or energizing), genetic propinquity ( close to the roots- agriculture, fishing..).
- Design includes the transitional element, softening the frontier and providing the space for the inductions (of natural goods). At the sea-side beach provides these spaces (public though informal) and at the polder-side it is “common gardens” (NOT parks, because these spaces are the transition between the private interior spaces and the polders).
- Polders could be compared to the sea by it’s qualities as well as by the use of it. Only the narrow band close to the coast could be for public use. There is no necessity to go deeper/further. (Land ownership, professional agriculture, protected ornithological zones).
“ Whether around cities or nations, borders today, though sometimes represented physically, are also inherently abstract.”
Trevor Sudano, 2012 (Venice Architecture Biennale 2012)
To understand the relation on the borders (the city edges) all the fronts were decomposed. Studying the sequence from the inside space to the polders (and the same from the inside to the sea for the comparison), in most of the cases there was found the unexpected territorial depth.
After the research all the territory was grouped by the similar characters of the fronts /borders /boundaries /lines between the two spaces on focus. For easier evaluation, the “lines” were classified into the groups by the origin:
The overlap of them gave the map of the strength of the frontiers to the polders.
the role elements.
-changing the pattern of the polder sites close to the city (the “bathing zone”);
-adding the common spaces;
-reorganizing the back yard tradition;
-providing the view direction from the level1 (windows) and inside organisation;
-encouraging the involvement in the creation of surroundings and the use of the land;
Before the conclusion, it is important to remember that to implement any changes or solutions to the exiting community takes time. Therefore time plays an extremely important role in the design process from the very beginning. It is all about improving the existing conditions and solving any possible problems in the future. It must be taken into account that the number of “what if” scenarios might be infinite, nevertheless the observations, data analysis and researches of ongoing tendencies could help to simulate the plausible trends, which the design created on the paper today will face after it’s implementation in the future.
The question what the sub-urban landscape will look like after 50 or 100 years will be answered after the 50 or 100 years. But the cause of it is being designed today. The future environment is created now. The GreenCoast project distinguishes the countryside sprawl from the coastal urbanization, even though it shares some similar features. In Belgium, small scale highly urbanized attractive towns along the coastline must be protected from merging the disperse suburbanization. It could be done by defining the new opposite located attraction, that provides desired qualities: nature and massiveness. This turning back suggests the future strategy and the attitude towards the devaluated potentials. The population is constantly growing – the open inbuilt natural (not even wild) landscapes will become luxury in these highly populated areas. It is in human’s nature – the view of the far horizon.