This year’s winners of the bi-annual Rotterdam design prize is Rietveld Landscape with the project Vacant NL. This installation was made for and shown first at the 2010 Venice International Architecture Exhibition. It makes visible exactly how many public, governmental buildings are vacant in the Netherlands. With the Dutch government’s ambition to belong to the top 5 of knowledge economies in the world in mind, Rietveld Landscape proposes that the government starts to give out keys, instead of money. Creative entrepreneurs are mostly in need of space, and less of money. With that space, they can create hubs were cross-pollination can take place.
I love that the simplicity of this idea. These buildings are here, they are empty and costing the government money. By renting these places out and creating creative hubs, cities not only become more attractive for other entrepreneurs that can help make an economy grow, but (local) governments can actually make some money of it. And in a time when everything seems to be evolved around budget cuts, the idea behind Vacant NL should appeal to those in control. I say hand out them keys!