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City Hall, Zoetermeer, Holland /

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Not one square meter of space wasted, not one building unplanned, everything has a purpose, everyone a place.
                        Vincent Schoonhoven, Zoetermeer, 2011

From the top of the City Hall, looking down on Zoetermeer, a sense of order pervades.  The street layouts and the configurations of buildings all speak of their relationship to a plan, aching with a sensation of the designed, each district proudly announcing its roots in modernity.

From above, the growth of the town from fishing village, to farming polder, to imagineered new town becomes apparent. Each architectural statement, each planned neighbourhood embodying the ambitions, optimism and anticipation of a generation dreaming of their future.  Not simply collections of homes but mechanisms within an ordered, complex living machine created to lead us, the citizens of the 20th century, into a utopian world

Those futures are now past dreams of days yet to come, but, as always, amidst the dreams reality insists on creeping in. Next to each vision of the future lies a quiet nod to the fact that our ability to create the utopias we long for, always seems out of reach.

Each shift in architectural style, each new manufactured neighbourhood, stands as a tacit admission that even amidst the careful planning and imposed order the happy endings our folk tales and childhood selves think of as essential to the life-well-lived remain frustratingly illusive.  

Yet, defiantly undeterred, Zoetermeer still strives for improvement, reaching out for this perfection as Oosterheem rises on the horizon.

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

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