HAAGSE RUGBY DAGEN and amphibious housing

Den Haaaaag, The Hague, has the biggest rugby club in the Netherlands. I traveled Northwest with the Erasmus team to play two friendly 40 minute games (two halves) against The Hague’s 2nd XV and Delft.

I played fly-half, the position I played at Bowdoin, for the entire 80 minutes. The pitch was wet and the grass was long so the games were slow and defense-heavy with a lot of scrums and knock-ons. It was not the style of game tailored to my strengths as a player. I prefer a faster pace with running, slick passing, and fancy moves.  However, the guys on the team were pumped to have me and seem to want me to stick around and play for them for as long as possible.

I noticed quite a few professional photographers around the pitch so hopefully I can provide photo evidence later on in the week.

After the game, we drove back to Rotterdam to go to the Irish pub and watch the South Africa-Argentina match. I took the train to the match with 3 of the other guys but I was offered a ride back in someone’s car. Frank, a 6’6” lock (the biggest guy on the team) hopped in the trunk to make room for me. Of course this is illegal, but he ‘disappeared’ after he rolled the baggage curtain over his head. Perfectly concealed from the 5.0.

I left my bike at Centraal Station for the day. There are usually thefts and lots of vandalism in the giant parking lot of bikes, especially late at night. I was very happy to find my baby intact with both wheels still on! I’ve grown very fond of that bike. It’s definitely the most useful tool you can have in the Netherlands.

I had a wobbly ride home and then fell asleep as soon as I plopped down on my pillow. Long day.

Tomorrow, I’m meeting Han Meyer, the director of the Urban Planning faculty at Delft Technical University, the premier engineering and design school in the Netherlands. One of his projects (Project Delta-Urbanism focuses on the way territorial conditions in delta- areas have to be taken into account in  urban design and urban planning. The research pays especially attention to the borders of land and water and to the question how the infrastructure of water-management can be integrated in the urban fabric.)

Should be especially interesting to hear about.

He was very nice to offer me a time to meet him. I first heard about Mr. Meyer after reading an introduction to a book called Waterwonen in Nederland (Amphibious Housing in the Netherlands). I just dropped him an email cold and he got back to me with a time. Cool beans.

Here’s an excerpt:

Within a short period the relationship between urban development and water in the Netherlands has been completely reversed. Just a few decades ago urban development and urban regeneration almost always involved the filling in or draining of lakes, canals, waterways, and harbors, annexing and impoldering areas adjacent to the rivers, repositioning and raising dykes and reclaiming river beds. Now the opposite is true. The new consensus is that we need more space for rivers, for surface water in cities and for the temporary storage of ever-larger volumes of rain water to limit further subsidence and saline seepage. 

What exactly does this mean for the city? Widespread concern about urban and rural clutter has made it a hot topic in the world of professional designers and in public debate in the media and at meetings organized by local architecture centres.

It is absolutely vital that we explore how solutions to the matter of water in the city can contribute to the development of meaningful new urban structures. 

Amphibious housing has received a great deal of attention in competitions and small-scale experiemnts, much of it dominated by futuristic vistas of floating cities…But such experiments have tended to emphasize technical solutions to matters like stability and connections to onshore facilities. (or G-WAVE?) The latter is certainly important, but what has been missing so far is exactly what this book is all about, a systematic approach to the question of how water-based housing can contribute to a new, durable and meaningful form of urban design.

Amphibious housing is less a problem that needs a solution than a springboard for new qualities and connections that can provide cities with entirely new perspectives.

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