Vacant NL

For the Venice Architecture Biennale 2010, curator RAAAF was invited by the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) to make a statement about  the potential of landscape architecture to contribute to resolving the complex challenges that our society faces today. These challenges call for innovation; for a culture centered on design skills and cooperation between scientists and creative pioneers. Our installation ‘Vacant NL’ calls upon the Dutch government to make use of the enormous potential of inspiring, unoccupied buildings from the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries for innovation within the creative knowledge economy.

RAAAF composed a multidisciplinary team to design the installation, consisting of people with an interest in the innovative potential of vacant property and international experience in the creative industry: Jurgen Bey (designer), Joost Grootens (graphic designer), Ronald Rietveld (landscape architect), Erik Rietveld (philosopher/ economist), Saskia van Stein (project leader NAI), and Barbara Visser (visual artist). Landstra & De Vries and Claus Wiersma (designer) are responsible for the construction of the exhibition.

Vacant NL got media attention worldwide and has led to many follow-up projects. This shows that vacancy is a giant and international challenge for the profession of architecture. The renowned Sandberg Institute (Rietveld Art Academy, Amsterdam) has invited us to develop a Master Program to educate specialists in temporary re-use of vacant buildings: the Master Vacant NL that started in 2011. RAAAF is currently working on a book to share our experiences on this topic with the international public and launch the novel professional and academic field of Vacancy Studies. This is also the title of the publication that will appear in 2014.

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Client: NAi | Ministry of Education, Culture and Science 

Design & concept: RAAAF

Team: Erik & Ronald Rietveld, Arna Mackic, Kasper Jacobs, Peer Frantzen, Chantal Bax

Location: Venice Architecture Biennale, 2010

Status: Exhibited, 2010  
Awards: Dutch Design Award, 2011 & Rotterdam Design Prize, 2011 
Photography: Rob 't Hart