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Holland 2009

StudioNL included students Laura Dillon, Ryan Donaghy, Damon Faulkner, Kelly Gawinek, Ashley Hetrick, Joss Kiely, Laura Mann, Sarah Sharp, Amanda Shin, Maeva Silveira, Claire Stupica, Maria Sviridova, Jamie Wilson, Brandon Yancharas.

Our stays are Paris (10 days), Delft (7 days), and Amsterdam (20 days), to be followed by a varying amounts of open travel at the end, as some participants will stay on and others will return to France to fly back.

This studio visits the Netherlands as a place where design is most intrinsic to the national culture. Our chosen icon is the Masslantkering (see poster), a storm surge barrier and the largest movable part of the Delta Works, as well as a shapely indicator of design response to planetary change. We cycled out to it last Saturday (May 23, 2009). But we also will visit the Netherlands to study density, in which it surpasses all other countries. As the ecologist Wendell Berry put it, Americans have been living extensively but now need to learn to live intensively. It is time to retire the frontier mentality, even in Michigan. In doing so, what might Holland, Michigan learn from Holland, Holland?

Dutch design begins from the land itself and reaches into so many details of everyday life that architecture becomes part of things much larger and smaller than building. So while an attraction exists to the many signature works for which recent Dutch architecture has become world-renowned, the real education might be in the everyday spaces, the alleys and courtyards, the bicycle culture, and the resource economics. It might also be the continued existence of reflectivity and common sense. For a month we escape the 24x7 paranoid media feed that has so eroded American imaginations. Here there are no railings along the canals; cars park centimeters from edge; nobody ever falls in.

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