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SNOWWORLD, Zoetermeer, Holland /

When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for our use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will look upon with praise and thanksgiving in their hearts.
                                    John Ruskin (1819-1900)

Nestled in the hills of the Buytenpark, far from the mountains and snow it simulates, the grandiose structure of SnowWorld stands proud at the fringes of Zoetermeer.  The concept of the self-contained experience - part ski village, part gym, part conference centre - successfully brought the mountain to the marsh, a little slice of the Alps transported to the lowlands in purpose, ambiance and even climate.

The first ever development of its type in Europe, and one positioned to reclaim its title as the largest, the remarkable 200 metre indoor snow slope stands as a monolithic statement declaring that when in Zoetermeer, anything is possible.
Nevertheless, though successful in putting at least a part of Zoetermeer on the map, SnowWorld, along with its sister leisure developments that make up the Big Five, have provoked their fair share of critics. Lambasted for being costly, unsustainable and insensitive to the surrounding environment they have become the focal point of an ongoing debate around the city - at its centre: where does Zoetermeer end and nature begin?  

Beneath the slopes of SnowWorld it seems, on first glance, that the sharp line between nature and man is unquestionably laid out. The greenery of the Buytenpark abruptly halts at the boundary of the man-made mountain. Yet, amidst this dramatic intrusion of our mechanised world,  nature has seemingly managed to reclaim a little of her space, as two horses make their home in a makeshift stable created by the elevated warehouse that ensures pristine piste year-round.

However, the horses themselves are seen by some as an invasive presence of man on nature - the wrong kind of horses, a domesticated, non-native species threatening the welfare of the natural Buytenpark where they have illicitly made their home.  The complexity of the situation only increases when one realises that the park is itself, in a sense, a simulation - a little piece of nature created for the people of Zoetermeer.

The question then would seem to be not one concerning the boundaries of nature and culture, but one that considers what kind of simulation is better for a city always on the grow?

This image is not featured in my shop. Please contact me through this page for details about buying this as a print.

Made in collaboration with producer Andy Brydon from Curated Place, for the Stadsmuseum Zoetermeer.

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