Vacant NL

Quotes from reviews Vacant NL, Venice Biennale 2010:


— The New York Times

“Another highlight is the Dutch Pavilion. The makers of the installation [...use] cheeky math to introduce their striking research into vacant state-owned buildings in the Netherlands. Every one of the more than1,000 empty buildings was rebuilt as a miniature blue foam model and suspended from the pavilion’s double-height ceiling. The curators […] propose to develop a strategy for temporary use, to make these buildings available to the public, particularly to the creative industries on which the Dutch government is banking its future prosperity.”



— The Wall Street Journal
 “The Dutch, Japanese and French national entries each examine the notion of the void in modern cities. The Netherlands pavilion does it in the most straightforward manner, simply pointing out that the building lies empty for almost nine months of the year. As you enter an empty room, there is a suspended blue foam ceiling that, when one proceeds to the upper level, turns out from above to be a model of a city. It provides a neat visual example of the percentage of empty space in European urban spaces.”



— The Guardian

"The Dutch present models of empty buildings highlighting the gormless enormity of architectural waste; how we concrete over anywhere we can for short-term gain, while governments prattle on about sustainability and building shortages."


— Liesbeth van der Pol, Rijksbouwmeester  

"Ten opzichte van voorgaande jaren zowel in artistiek opzicht als qua boodschap onovertroffen."



— Trouw

"Het is natuurlijk een statement van jewelste om het publiek van de architectuurbiënnale te confronteren met een ogenschijnlijk leeg Rietveldpaviljoen. Maar achter die leegte gaat een pakkende tentoonstelling schuil, verzorgd door het bureau RAAAF."



— NRC Handelsblad 

"Vanaf een hogergelegen tussenverdieping kijk je uit over een zee van gebouwen met een publieke functie: vuurtorens en watertorens, steenfabrieken en sportzalen, bunkers en forten, kerken en kloosters, zwembaden en ziekenhuizen. Het is een tot de verbeelding sprekende oproep aan de politiek."



— NRC Next  

"Lef of lafheid? [...] Dit jaar is het thema 'People meet in architecture'. 'Vacant NL' gaat een stap verder: maak intelligent gebruik van de gebouwen die we hebben. Een soort 'consuminderen' in de architectuur. Lef, dus."



— De Volkskrant

"Een sterk, eenduidig beeld"



— De Architect

"Beste tentoonstelling 2010: Installatie ‘Vacant NL’, gemaakt door RAAAF voor het NAI in Venetië, een bewijs te meer dat Ole Bouman vooral zou moeten doen waar hij goed in is, namelijk boeiende tentoonstellingen samenstellen. Een fascinerend overzicht [...] van de publieke leegstaande gebouwen in Nederland die volgens Ronald en Erik Rietveld een enorm potentieel vertegenwoordigen."



— The Guardian 

"Dozens of national pavilions get to interpret [Sejima's] theme in their own ways, often lamely but sometimes provocatively. The Dutch pavilion, for example, has created a foam city floating in the air, representing the thousands of state-owned buildings in the Netherlands that are empty – from ex-industrial sites, to disused municipal offices and abandoned churches. People, it seems, do not always meet in architecture."



— Metrpolis Magazine NYC

"RAAAF often presents these ideas in confrontational ways. For example, Vacant NL, the Dutch pavilion at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, was composed of 10,000 models of government-owned vacant structures, making clear the magnitude of idle property in a nation facing an ever-present housing shortage....In the end, the genius of RAAAF is in its strategic interventions that, though small, invite viewers to imagine a completely different way of living. “



— The Architectural Review

The practice, which was founded by Ronald and Erik Rietveld in 2006 came to international attention at the 2010 Venice Biennale. Its project there, Vacant NL, was a strangely compelling study of 10,000 empty government buildings − an enormous number in a small country − with imaginative ideas of what could be done with them: the Dutch government has been listening.


— Jury Rotterdan Designprijs 2011

''The project displays a social and cultural approach, integrates several disciplines, and links forms of design to cooperation with a variety of parties. Also, the manifesto offers a vision: it is successful as visualization, installation and political statement. It is expressly not a once only event.''


>>> Juryreport: [full report] [summary] (PDF)



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