Tulip, by Eikongraphia

One hundred islands in the form of a tulip in the Markermeer (Image: Eikongraphia)
Eikongraphia - Tulip (Copyright Michiel van Raaij)

A white tulip
A white tulip

“Even as a liberal there are moments you say: I want to do something”, the Dutch Minister of Finance Mr. Gerrit Zalm told me in an interview I did with him two weeks ago for the Dutch (neo-)liberal magazine Driemaster. Well, as a writer there are also moments you just want to do something. In the February-issue of Driemaster I wrote a scenario that is highly relevant to the issue of iconography.

In the Netherlands a remarkable problem has arisen in the urbanized areas: over-densification. After decennia of trying to build a ‘compact city’, in order to keep the farmland open, the result has become unsatisfactory. The totally filling up of all open places within the city with buildings has resulted in an urban landscape in which all things green (trees, gardens, parks, landscape) have become marginalized.

From all sides protests are emerging. The air-condition in some cities is worse than the law allows for. From an ecological point of view the reduction of nature within the city is absolutely not favorable. The poor quality of life has last year motivated 121.000 people to emigrate - that is 0.8 percent of our population! And from the perspective of the developers the idea of the ‘compact city’ does not allow them to build what the market want – freestanding houses with a garden.

The government intervenes with plans to build more villas and has recently launched a plan to plant a lot of trees in the suburbs. That can hardly be called a generous solution.

There are more and more indications that the labor-market is not so much instructive to where people move, but the situation of the housing market. In an open Europe the choice, between an apartment in the Netherlands and a villa in France or Spain, is one that more and more people make in favor of the latter. With a growing number of seniors the situation becomes even more critical as they move even quicker.

Is it a lost race? No, but we have to change our idea of the city and built new landscapes in which people again would love to live.

Imagine one hundred islands in the periphery of Amsterdam. From the air, the islands form the pixels of an image of a tulip. The tulip, the cliché image of Holland, as a metaphor for a green, healthy landscape of detached houses with generous gardens and private piers that point into the lake.

The site, in between Amsterdam and the city of Almere, is called the Markermeer. It was originally meant to be drained as ‘polder’ to provide space for new farmland. As we do not need more farms in the Netherlands, the polder was never made. Now the water level of 4-6 meter deep is too high for birds, and too low for fish. So every intervention is an improvement. It’s an unprecedented opportunity.

Combined with a new infrastructure link to Almere, which would ease the super-congested existing infrastructure, this agglomeration is a winner on all fronts.

Dubai has its palm-islands, and The World. Canada is planning its floating Maple Leaf in Toronto. Maybe in the Netherlands in the near future planning starts of one hundred islands in the form of a tulip.

One hundred islands in the form of a tulip in the Markermeer between Amsterdam (below) and Almere (above) (Image: Eikongraphia)
Eikongraphia - Tulip (Copyright Michiel van Raaij)

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