'New Amsterdam Park (N A P) - Trusted Subcultures' is a cross-disciplinary research project initiated by RAAAF. It investigates the way in which philosophy, cognitive science and architectural design can jointly contribute to the city’s social fabric and a well-functioning public domain. It is funded by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) in the form of a “Veni” grant awarded to Erik Rietveld (Harvard University).

The project addresses several questions vital for a better understanding of our everyday living environment: A lot of our governments’ funds go towards the improvement of social cohesion, but what is “social cohesion” in the first place? How is it possible for strangers - people from different subcultures – to become “trusted familiar strangers”? Do the cognitive and affective (neuro)sciences perhaps offer insights that can be translated into spatial interventions that in turn create conditions in which familiarity among strangers can grow and flourish? Over time, scientific and philosophical insights will be integrated into a design for a temporary and flexible floating park in the river IJ. As such, “Trusted Subcultures” is a development of the N A P project (design: RAAAF | Atelier de Lyon): a design-cum-manifesto for a new public space to arise on the waters of Amsterdam.

The design takes an innovative and optimistic concept of the stranger as its starting point. By understanding strangers, not as people from opposite and static ethnic backgrounds, but as people from different subcultures with shared interests and flexible patterns of behavior, the design is able to bring together various socio-cultural groups in a positive and natural way. Our notion of 'subcultures' is very broad. Everybody belongs to multiple subcultures. For instance, one and the same person can participate in practices of VJs, students, soccer players, artists, dog owners, comedians, etc.

The temporary floating park consists of a grid of large barges in which three types of spaces can be discerned: water streets and squares in between the barges, inner worlds created inside of them, and pathways connecting them along the top edges. A number of these barges will periodically be designated to and partially designed by people from specific subcultures. The vistas between the park units, the pathways atop and a wide range of simple yet effective places and social affordances for public encounters enable the exploration of subcultures other than one’s own. It is a place to explore and pick up some of the affordances that motivate other subcultures. The environmental possibilities for action enjoyed by others will sometimes be experienced as worth realizing oneself. The flexibility of the modular structure of the barges makes the floating park into a very suitable pilot project for developing a new understanding of social cohesion in public space.


External information:
>>> The Social Fabric of Everyday Life (a VENI-subproject from Erik Rietveld, 2009)





Concept Trusted Subculures: eigen initiatief RAAAF 

Concept NAP: RAAAF | Atelier de Lyon

Client: Own initiative RAAAF 
Project supported by: NWO Vernieuwingsimpuls
Exhibitions: NAi, Rotterdam; Lucky Dutch, Moskou; Biennale Sao Paulo
State: research project 2009 – present