Monday, September 06, 2010

Eco-town Amersfoort

Amersfoort as an eco-town? This video shown below, made me so enthusiastic as we decided to go to the Netherlands as a last stop at latest journey. Video and more information from this site; asc, Academic for Sustainable Communities.

Three new settlements so far; Nieuwland, Kattenbroek and Vathorst, where Nieuwland looks like an ordinary residential area, Kattenbroek is cool when looking at google maps, but as a couple who moved from the area said "it felt like we lived in a fish bowl, tourists were there all the time to take pictures of the architecture", as it was very easy to get lost in dead-ends and circular roads, I understood what they meant by "a lot of tourists running around"; they were trapped!, and then the area of Vathorst.. Well, before thinking to much good thoughts here.. take a look at the pictures.

Yes, they have their own character in each block.. click to zoom.

Amersfoort have the best bicycle roads I ever seen, a car free beautiful little city center, and many elements close to an ecocity/eco-town, but sadly, this project, "Eco-town Amersfoort", as something for the whole city, fails in the "sustainable social part", its not there, no mixed-used buildings, no activities, straight streets.. nothing to do, the dependence of cars..

  I have to ask myself the question, even if people apparently does; who wants to live in those straight streets? It is far to walk to the bus or the train station (both the central station and the new one in Varthorst is far away from the center), in text they say 400 meter from every house to a bus stop, well we walked 20 minutes to catch the bus after being in Varthorst, the area is not completed yet..
  As seen in the pictures, it was so boring to walk at the streets here as we just took the fastest way. Varthorst as well as Nieuwland, Kattenbroek, is just a huge residential area for living. With those houses in two stores high, and with a need to use the car, I would not call this an ecological area, or a social sustainable area, this is suburban sprawl! And I don't care if they tells that they saved some old trees as they did, this is not good at all anyway.

I may be too hard, because this is a new settlement and not finished yet. But as I'm interested in discussing why its so hard to make something called an ecocity/eco-town, this is a good example for doing that; this is just another try to make a so-called sustainable area. This time it failed most in the long distance, were I have to argue that if calling something "eco-", it should be connected and not requires that much transportation. See step one in my explanation of what an ecocity should have.

At the end, just before sunset, we found these houses, which made the whole day walk in the new settlement in Amersfoort worth it, so called "ecological houses", as we saw next day: for more than 500 000 euros.

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