What if cars don’t exist anymore? What if we can only build using wood? Or only with rubber? These were some of the questions raised to scholars and professionals at the Eindhoven technical education house, De Ontdekfabriek, while building their own ‘What-If-City’. This is an idealised city of the future.
If you can believe the participants that attempted the struggle of the ‘What-If-City’, it certainly isn’t the city of today. Even though the ideal world differs for young and old. “I would love the swimming pool of the Goffertpark to be much bigger,” murmured a 9 year old participant from Nijmegen. Social designer, Lian Kroes, accepted the challenge to contribute to the project and has her own wish list. Take Strijp-S. It’s being filled with high towers. But the public spaces in between lack social meeting places. Luckily, Eindhoven is a raw city and many things can still be changed. There’s still room to change things and improve them.
As diverse as the challenges are, so the solutions vary from young and old. Where adults quickly identify dream from deed and allow practical implications to get in the way, children are far less restricted by it. “The imagination of a child luckily knows no boundaries,” says Igino van Haandel from de Ontdekfabriek. “You clearly see how the lines of fact and fiction are blurred in the solutions that they present.”
What if we have to deal with corona or a different virus for another year? What will that mean for city planning and the way we interact socially? Social designer, Lian Kroes: “This is the challenge we all face. We’re trying our best to keep the lockdown-world open with online platforms. Unfortunately, we’re continuously faced with the restrictions there-of. It challenges the social designers to come up with solutions. Stimulating people to meet each other in ways that are still allowed. The people of Eindhoven will soon see the necessity of this in the near future. The 9 year old participant from Nijmegen has a quick solution: “we must get a vacuum cleaner to hup suck all the coronavirus up. How must we make it? That I don’t know but I still want to help!”
Lian Kroes intends to take the best of the suggestions of the ‘What-If’ sessions with her. When she is seated at a table with other professionals she wants to be the messenger of all the beautiful ideas the children contributed.
Translator: Ame Harris