For a couple of years now a developer called ‘Indoor Golf Project’ is talking to the municipality of Amersfoort, a small city located in the middle of the Netherlands. The project he wants to realize there: an indoor golf course of 140.000 square meters.
It is named ‘the biggest indoor golf course of the world’, basically because there is nothing like this around. Maybe there is a good reason for that, the critics of the plan say. Maybe it’s because one of the virtues of golf is that it one plays it outside. The developer however claims that this venue would provide an opportunity to practice the game 365 days a year, that there are huge crowds waiting for a place like this.
With its limited size it’s no 18-hole golf of course. Under the plastic roof one can only practice the short game, like the approach to the ‘put’. The plans are still being developed and the developer considers adding a 5-star hotel, a swimming pool and even more program. The images shown here show an impression of concept, done by Zwarts en Jansma. That is the same office that did the sketch of the extension of Amsterdam underground.
The whole idea makes me think of the development of Coney Island, as described by Rem Koolhaas in his book ‘Delirious New York’. At the turn of the century from the nineteenth to the twentieth century the major attractions at the vacation-island were exchanged for a machine-like replacement. The horse-ride for instance, was exchanged for a ride with horse-like vehicles. The advantage: now more people could enjoy a attraction, for less money.
By now on can sky the whole summer in Dubai on ‘real’ snow. In the Netherlands from this winter on we can skate again on ‘natural’ ice, a folklore that because of global warming has become almost completely impossible. Entrance 15 euro.
Is this modernization? Wasn’t it Buckminster Fuller who dreamed of building huge spheres that would create an intermediate climate for whole city-districts? Could we align this proposal for an indoor golf course with that kind of utopian projects? The architects probably wouldn’t have a problem with that comparison, but that doesn’t make it any more true. I suppose Buckminster Fuller dreamt of stimulating democracy with his architecture. This however is a store.
Interestingly the different political agenda’s have the exact same architectural form. The work of Norman Foster, an architect greatly influenced by the ideas and forms of ‘Buck’, is exactly the same as he works for a dictator, for a corporation or for a foundation.
If we would continue the commercial path, could we expect the roofing of inner city districts? In order to provide a warm welcome to tourists and shoppers in any weather? Will the Chinese start constructing huge climatized spheres, to be able to guarantee Swiss-like clean air in at least some parts of the city? Will UNESCO start ordering monumental plastic spheres, to protect historic sites from sour rain?
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