This chapter makes the Nest! concept
concrete by developing four different possible applications. They are developed
for four different development sites of the city of
II) On the road to 2015 –
Implementing the Nest! in
for making the Nest! a regular part of integrated urban development, have
been met by the
Each of these plans and visions are ambitious and innovative, both in the process that led to them, as well as in the goals and visions they pursue. Each of these documents, however, is fairly abstract too, in specifying the precise vehicle that will lead to this luring destination. If these challenging visions are being treated as ‘business as usual’ the resulting developments are likely to be ‘usual’ as well. In fact, as much as the 2015 city vision is remembered as a fascinating process, it has not become a living practice in day to day reality. There is a risk that it will become normative document, to which simply an obligatory reference is made in each of the –segmented and non-integrative- projects that are started.
To avoid that
embarking on a long-term vision degenerates into lip-service to hollow
humbug, the city council has decided to review and revive the vision. This is
a marvelous opportunity for the vision building process to become a living
reality of the city. This is the moment to implement a Nest! and make
The metaphor that has been used in the
In 1997 the nervous
system for the innovative process was the commission room at town hall. The
proposal now is to take this process one step further. By making the Nest!
The Nest! methodology is applied to ensure that the city vision has the largest possible chances of becoming reality in 2015. For that to happen, a location for both the temporary settlement itself, as well as the area to develop as an end product needs to be selected. These have to fit to the parameters of the city vision. Because this vision is being updated, no final suggestion can be made yet as to what would best fit its content. Instead, suggestions are made that fit to the scenarios that were at the base of the city vision. Each of these represents the end of the spectrum of possibilities of a number of parameters.
The four scenarios are represented by a location that can be called characteristic for that scenario. For example, “Big Arnhem” has a strong emphasis on a pleasant working and living environment, for which Schuytgraaf can be symbolic. In order to grow towards a Big Arnhem future, we explore how the Nest! could be applied in the Schuytgraaf setting. Who would live there, how would it be started, function and be organized, what would be the permanent project developed in the settlement, how would it end? Going through this exercise in four different case examples gives an illustration of the range of possibilities of the methodology. It also sketches the scope to facilitate a decision on the best application of the Nest! in order to realize the final city vision Arnhem 2015.
The Nest! thereby serves as a new urban development methodology and as an additional vehicle supporting the realization of the city vision.
The four scenarios that are at the base of the 2015 vision are explorations of possible futures. Their nature is not normative (this is how it should be), but explorative (this is how it could be). These explorations are based on the most important driving forces that shape the future of the town and are put in the form of “if-then”. So one story will tell what the future will be IF the driving forces develop in one direction, and another story will describe the consequences if the forces go the opposite direction.
At the start of the process an inventory is made of all the driving forces that determine the future and how they work. Then, a classification is made to see which of these forces are most determining for the future. The level to which the behavior of these forces can be predicted is also explored. After all, some elements like the climate may be important but do not vary. Combining the different investigations gives the “key uncertainty”, the element which is very important in shaping the future and which can develop in several directions.
The key uncertainty
Will there be a European oriented perspective with trade, transport and logistics?
Or will the future show a more locally and regionally oriented town with services as its main economic activity?
The answer to this central question is different in each of the four scenarios. The resulting orientation described in the four scenarios can be characterized as follows:
A second core
element on which the scenarios are different is the way, in which the growth
that was expected at the time, is being dealt with. This growth can be met in
a dynamic active way, or reacted to in a more passive way. ‘Limitless
These two pairs of scenarios also show similarities in the way the organizing capacities are shaped, and what governance model is followed. The central question here is:
Will there be a grand collaborative effort, with large projects being realized in partnership?
Or will the future show a more local focus, where neighborhood improvement is important?
In the four Nest! scenarios these different dynamics are mirrored back by the main actor that takes initiatives for development. Of all forces that determine the future of the town, one emerges as the most prominent in each of the four scenarios. These “driving forces” are rather different, resulting in an interesting variation in the scenarios:
The economic elements that are most characteristic for the scenarios result from the workings of the most important forces in each of the stories. They are the following:
To display what the four scenario’s of Arnhem 2015 look like, four locations have been selected, for which plans exist or have existed. The scenarios below describe how these locations will be developed in tune with the character of the 2015 scenario. In each case, the Nest! is an important additional element in making the project happen.
The descriptions below are not the Arnhem 2015 scenarios themselves. These are about the town as a whole, not about one location, and they describe also elements like the cultural climate, traffic and nature. The four scenarios below show how the driving forces and the characteristics of each scenario influence the way in which urban development takes place. They also show how under these circumstances, a temporary settlement can exist and how it can contribute to realizing the final image as described in the scenario.
Of the four
locations, three are at or close to the
The projects that are or were foreseen on the four locations are in different stages. Building has started in the Schuytgraaf area in mid 2003. The Rijnboog project is in an initial phase. Adaptation of a master plan is foreseen in 2004. The Art garden project is in an initial stage as well. The project Geitenkamp Noord, however, does not exist any more. For several years plans were developed to build north of the ‘Beukenlaan’.
Because these plans were elaborated to a fair level of detail, it is plausible that at some time similar developments could be reconsidered in that area. At the moment, however, the situation is such, that building is impossible on most of the grounds around the Saxon Weimar former army base. That is why this scenario describes how the Nest! could function and what sort of project it could develop, without specifying where these houses would be located.
In summary, the locations and projects are the following.
The four Nest!
scenarios do not only describe how in the four possible futures for
Because the scenarios vary on so many points, there needs to be a basis for comparison as well. The four urban plans that have been developed for the different locations are therefore displayed on the same scale. The physical elements for both housing and other functions are the same as well in all of the locations. These units are the containers that are currently also being used for student complexes. They form a good base for comparison, because they are simple units of space, like Lego. They can be applied both scattered out like on a camping place, as well as in a dense urban setting by stacking them five stories high. This choice has only been done to make the four plans easy to compare. In practice a differentiated choice has to be made, that is well adjusted to both the location and the participating pioneers. These choices can be made once a decision has been made about the realization of the Nest!.
Scenario One: Limitless
On a warm August
afternoon in 2015, a helicopter lands on ‘Koningspley’, the strip
of land in
developments on and around the industrial area had started about eleven years
before. A coalition of partners had made plans to redevelop the area around a
former milk factory. Despite the magnificent location on the waterfront next
to the downtown area and the
The area did not
have a good reputation amongst the people of
So they decided
that it was important to lower the risks of the investment, by first
stimulating a gentrification process. Their big example was the waterfront
From then on the area ceased to be the favorite hang out for junkies. There were people living in the area now. There were ateliers, shops and galleries attracting even more people. The artists organized exhibits and performances. First their events and activities were the discovery of just a few people but over time it got well known that the Nest! was there.
People visiting the
It became an instant hit and not just amongst tourists. For some people the atmosphere in the Nest! was a bit too avant-garde to be really appreciated, but in general what was happening there was seen as exciting, different, creative and fun. Things were different from the mainstream. Not necessarily always the best artists had settled there as pioneers. Some were top of the bill creators, others were simply unusual shopkeepers selling nice kitsch. What all the pioneers had in common was that they together created an unusual and pleasant atmosphere.
The developer who put down the first 200 containers did not do more than that. The day to day management of the Nest! was in the hands of the pioneer community itself. The organization of the complex bears resemblance with the internet. Many small businesses are active in what at first sight seems to be a chaos, but what upon closer examination turns out to be a well organized network. The temporary housing corporation functions as a society of owners. Some pioneers rent their container, others lease and others own it; they have a mortgage with the temporary housing corporation. This corporation assures the maintenance of the public space in the complex and for the rest everybody deals with their own space, where they organize their own activities.
Most artists belong to a cooperative that organizes joint promotion activities. It organizes the large events that take place on the grounds of the Nest! settlement. Every time there is such an event, one of the artists makes a design for the “eggs”. These eggs are the coupons, or local currency, that is being used in the settlement to buy drinks and goods. That makes them, just like stamps and telephone cards, a nice collectors item or souvenir. For the participating pioneers, the eggs are more then a nice gadget or a way to avoid too much cash being around during events. It is their pride, a source of identity and recognition, like a flag and at the same time it is also a good source of income. Once people have changed Euro into the “egg currency”, they easily spend the colorful pieces of paper on small items that are cute and pretty, but might not have been purchased if “real” money were to be used. Earning such eggs keeps down expenses, because the (already low) rent can be paid with it. This is a welcome addition to the welfare check many artists depend on, if they do not manage a breakthrough into the big galleries.
In 2007 IKEA comes
on the market with a modular container system “Conny”. It can be
put together just as easy as bookshelves and has elements for sanitation,
kitchen furniture and decorations. Before long you see container units pop up
everywhere, not just in
This is related also to the liberalization of the governmental system in general and the regulations to obtain building licenses in particular. It has become just as easy to get a five year land lease and building permit, as it is to get a driving license.
possibility permits a wild growth of the Nest!. The artist village is
extending along the
Anything goes in this joyful play of free market forces. The ruling of market forces has not led to a cold and hostile atmosphere, on the contrary. The Nest! Academy becomes the focal point of social life in the area. Many people participate in courses simply to be a part of it all. Especially the open atelier sessions become well known in the art scene. Occasionally famous musicians join in the open podium sessions, to be able to enjoy making music, away from the lime light. The Nest! Academy also serves as an atelier for the pioneers and entrepreneurs of the industrial area to collaborate on developing the run down district. The unusual partnership and the innovative way of working in the Academy assures that creative visions are being developed. The many projects that start coming out of this process from 2008 onwards display an interesting mix of styles. Small and large complexes are being built including both housing and business space. In many instances the realized space is really just unspecialized space with facilities and infrastructure. In a very flexible way the space can be used for a while for housing, offices, recreation or shops, depending on the requirements of the ever changing needs and fashions of the moment.
The municipality is a partner in these new developments but not a very strong one. Vigorous cutbacks in governmental spending of the two consecutive coalition governments led by prime-minister Zalm, have left the municipality severely weakened. The city was forced to withdraw to its core business like granting licenses and maintaining the roads. City development was no longer organized and steered primarily by the municipality. This vacuum was filled in by changing coalitions of various players coordinated in the Nest! Academy. A new kind of networking governance was explored in the process.
The big jump came
in 2009, when the owner of the large Koningspley area came to
Besides of the moved container units, six hundred new temporary housing units were added on the new location of the Nest! settlement.
As soon as the Nest! had moved, works started to renovate the former milk factory.
The apartments that were realized there were not really that spectacular in themselves.
But they had a
great location right at the river front. More important than that, they profited
from the reputation of the Nest!. Because of this snob appeal, it was fairly
easy to sell the apartments to Yuppies settling in
settlement can’t enjoy the green and open river side space of its new
location very long. The location is being developed into a business park on
the basis of sustainable development. Already in 2012 the settlement has to
start shrinking down, to be dismantled completely towards the end of 2014.
That does not really pose a problem. The concept of temporary settlements to
jumpstart development has not remained unnoticed. The nearby city of
This coincides nicely with the decreasing pioneer presence in the Arnhem project. A large number of the original pioneers do not make the move. In the many years that they have lived in the Nest! they have moved up high enough on the waiting lists to find a rental home. There is also a fair number of pioneers who have saved so many “eggs” over the years, that they manage to obtain a house of their own, in one of the projects the Nest! has been developing. So the new settlement in the neighboring community Nijmegen winds up attracting mainly new young pioneers. This is all the better, to bring in fresh new ideas and give this temporary settlement its own local identity.
In 2015 the ambitious Rijnboog project is almost completed. A complex of offices and apartment buildings has risen around the terminal where the high speed train links to regional modes of transport. The downtown area of Arnhem has been revitalized, and got rid of its bland post-war reconstruction image. The town is connected to the station area as well as to the Rhine river; a stunning waterfront has been created. This ambitious development is the pride of a town that counts, both on a European and a global level. In 2015 it is hard to imagine that it took so long to get this project going and that at some point it met with so much resistance.
Things started to move in 2004, when the municipal council decided to locate a Nest! settlement in the area. This decision was only taken after a long and heated debate. When the positions of 11 different parties got more and more trenched, the Nest! proposal came as a helpful breakthrough to sidetrack the attention a bit and delay final decisions about the permanent development of the Rijnboog area.
Just before the start of the academic year 2004-2005, a container campus was opened. This was a great relief for especially the first year students, who feared long travel distances and having to stay with mum and dad throughout their student years. The 400 cheap rental units took some of the pressure from the housing market. They also took away the irritated atmosphere amongst city council members who feared that not enough new, cheap housing came on the market.
The campus was located on Peter Struykens work of art ‘Blue waves’.
This public space around the roads going up the major Rhine bridge had lost most of its charm over the years to become a windy parking lot. The opening of the campus immediately changed that to a pleasant atmosphere buzzing with life.
The downtown area profited from the security of having people around in the area, while nobody was bothered by the noise the road-surrounded campus could make at times. The campus was immediately popular amongst the students of the Arnhem Academy for the Visual Arts that just opened its new school nearby. The ground-floor containers soon had little galleries and fashion ateliers, where the young artists were trying to sell their first creations.
Others went for less ambitious sources of revenues, by selling secondhand books and household goods. A small sandwich kiosk and an ice cream parlor opened up their doors soon enough as well.
The Nest! could be built up so quickly, because it was organized in a business like way. One of the market parties involved in the Rijnboog partnership had embraced the idea of a temporary settlement as a way to jumpstart the developments. They put up the settlement just as quickly as they were used to set up the temporary offices near a building site. This Nest! is less of a social project. The students rent their containers from the Rijnboog partners and that is it; they are not very much involved in the management of the settlement.
It was not just students, however, who opted for a cheap unit in the Nest! settlement. The ‘Hoofdkwartier’ (Headquarters) across the road was reaching the limits of its space. This center for art and media had been rather successful in the two years since the opening in combining artistic expression and a business like approach. It was not a given any more for young designers to move to Amsterdam the day after their graduation. Several tried a start-up in the inspiring, low-cost environment of the Nest!. It was not just the artistic minds that saw the advantages of the spot. Young graduates in technical studies used the cheap rents, hip image and proximity of the main business centers, to start up their own company. They developed software for application in transport and logistics that soon become popular.
The companies that obtained a World Trade Center license, held office in the Nest! from 2005 until their new building in front of the rail terminal was ready in 2008. This World Trade Center is one of the first elements of the ambitious Rijnboog development plan to become reality. Because the WTC could already operate while the building itself was being realized, the start-off goes smooth and quick. This seems to be the turning point, that allows Arnhem to shed off its image of a slightly boring provincial town. Arnhem is on the map again and ‘recession’ seems to be a word of a long gone past.
The Nest! does not only profile itself as a business incubator. First and foremost it serves the student population. The Thursday parties they organize develop into important events for the youth culture in Arnhem. An additional scene to the near by leisure area ‘Korenmarkt’ is slowly coming up. The ‘River Rave’ dance events attract students from Nijmegen as well as from the Arnhem region. Several items on the event calendar of the Nest! are organized in close collaboration with the management of the Art Academy HKA. Especially the yearly exam exhibits of the fashion students attracts attention from trend watchers and leading magazines.
This combination of bohemian avant-garde and successful businesses hits just the right note. More and more leading companies settle in the central area of Arnhem. Several are operating in the field of transport and logistics. Others are in trade but also ICT companies settle in the Rijnboog area. A number of companies from Nord Rhein Westfalen choose Arnhem as a base for their Dutch offices.
In the wake of this business renaissance, small consultants, accountants and other services are establishing themselves, creating employment and putting a large demand for space on the Rijnboog partners, who have a tough time developing enough suitable housing and work surface for the demanding customers.
These new companies and their employees are not just customers.
They are taken serious as the major asset of the town and treated as such.
The Nest! Academy serves as a base where newcomers and long-time Arnhem residents alike, are invited to participate in the Rijnboog development. Interactive workshops fine tune the program better than professionals on their own could have ever done. The process leads to more then just plans for the area, it is inspiring challenging and constructive for all participants. The slogan that Arnhem has adopted of being a learning city, really comes true.
The success of the formula resonates in circles of management development and several of the publications of the Nest! Academy become international bestsellers.
As a result of the involvement of participants of the Nest! Academy, the contents of the original Rijnboog plans are shifting. The jump in scale of the area is a bit larger and of a different nature than foreseen. There are more offices and general business spaces being planned, and above all, more leisure surface: shops, cafes, restaurants, saunas and all these things that the rising ‘creative class’ requires. This pushes out the cultural functions that were originally foreseen as the backbone of the development. In city wide workshops the character of different areas is redefined. In 2012 the regional archives, library, cinema center and other elements of the ‘culture boulevard’ are finalized around the Gelredome stade on the other side of the river. This way the Northern and Southern town centers both have their own specialization. The Rijnboog area focuses on work, housing and leisure, whereas larger cultural elements are centered across the river.
Because of the temporary settlement, the people of Arnhem have been getting used to a higher building mass in the area. The five stories high stacks of containers have become an accepted and appreciated element of the Arnhem waterfront. Although the program has been changing, the design concepts of the urban plan made by De Sola-Morales for the area gets embraced by more and more people and is being executed. This implies major engineering works to make a new harbor and alter the Nelson Mandela bridge, of which from now on only half will be used.
The Nest! itself is changing too. After five years the temporary license expires and the settlement has to move. The area where it was located is being used now for the construction of permanent buildings. The containers are moved to the part of the bridge that is not being used for traffic any more. Instead of little towers they are spread out to a line up of one or two containers high, along the length of the bridge.
Because the works for demolishing obsolete buildings and making the harbor are bringing upheaval in the Rhine front area, the place where people go for a stroll has shifted. After shopping, during lunch break or just like that, people take a walk on the Mandela bridge through the linear Nest! settlement. It becomes a popular place, not just for young people or the business community, but really for everybody to hang about, drink a coffee, see and be seen and look out over the construction works taking place in the Rijnboog area. The Nest! has not only changed location, the function and atmosphere have changed too. It is not so much a business incubator anymore. That role has been taken over by the newly reconstructed area around the World Trade Center, where one person businesses as well as large companies can find convenient space. The Nest! is primarily a multicultural area for leisure. Besides of the many cafés, galleries and shops, about three quarter of the containers are still being inhabited by students. Despite their moderate size, the units are extremely popular because of the great view and excellent atmosphere in the campus. Everybody wants to be where the action is.
In 2014, however, those students have to start looking for a place in one of the complexes nominated for demolition in the reconstruction area Elderveld. The Nest! is ending. The municipal council is deciding over the closure proposals for the temporary settlement. This contains several very attractive options. A number of competitive offers have been made by housing corporations for buying the containers. An even more interesting option is the bid of a municipality in the Ruhr area of Germany.
They want to buy the settlement plus the project development concept.
That is very interesting for some of the pioneers who can start off their careers by moving with the settlement and taking on the jobs being offered for five years in the German development project.
The profit of the foreseen transaction does not only cover the expenses of the temporary settlement, also the redevelopment of the bridge could be paid from it. Still, the municipality is considering to alter the original plan of a boulevard that, without the temporary settlement, would have little social control at night. Instead the “BES”, the interest-group of entrepreneurs of the red-light district, wants to rent the space. Their ‘eros-center’ in the industrial area has never really functioned in the 8 years it has been there. Now the pimps are looking for a new location, that is close to the downtown area and where nobody will be bothered. The municipality likes the idea of freeing the businesses in the industrial area of their unpopular neighbor, and gives permission to construct a “Lorelei-lane” on the bridge. This transaction provides the means to finance the ongoing restructuring of old neighborhoods as well as several new social projects.
Just before Saint Nicolas day of 2015, the keys of the last house to be finished in Arnhems city extension Schuytgraaf, is handed over to Peter. This is a nice gift for his tenth birthday which he is celebrating today. It is a rather symbolic gesture, Peter was the first child to be born in Schuytgraaf so in a way he marked the birth of the neighborhood, and now his birthday marks its completion. His mother Carla remembers the long and sometimes difficult road they have been on to finally settle down permanently in their beloved corner of Arnhem.
It was in the summer of 2004 that it all started. The Public Private Partnership that was developing the area, GEM Schuytgraaf, opened up the “Freedom Village”. It really was a temporary hotel accommodation, but there were also a number of quite affordable chalets and caravans. It was the name that did it: Carla was ready for some freedom! She had enough of the small room she was renting for a sum of money that was not small at all and she was ready to be freed from the sounds of the stereo of her rap-music loving neighbor. Most of all she wanted to grab the opportunity to move in with her boyfriend Henk. He was still living with his parents, so getting some privacy was really a big issue for them. The fun thing was that in that summer only the first hundred houses in Schuytgraaf were finalized. Other families had been waiting for many years for that. Now Carla and Henk could move in to their own little house in “Freedom Village” just like that, at the same time as those others.
The GEM Schuytgraaf could not have put this up all alone in such a short time. The actual building of the village, and most of the planning and engineering, had been done by the C-101 Genie Battalion of the Dutch Royal Army. They had been putting up such completely self contained settlements in the years before, in much more complicated circumstances in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The municipality of Arnhem, the army and the GEM Schuytgraaf joined forces in organizing a large event in the area of Schuytgraaf. It was this area, that exactly sixty years before, was the scene of one of the major battles of the Second World War. Memorial events were organized along the marching route of operation Market Garden. The theme was freedom, liberation and transformation. It was fascinating to see the documentaries and exhibitions that were made on the occasion and realize how both the place and the society had been transforming towards freedom. Guided walks and bicycle tours were organized. Carla thought that getting in touch with the people who had made it all possible was most fascinating.
The veterans and their families had shown up in large numbers, because they realized they would not live to see many more of such events. Most had preferred the Freedom Village for residence and not only because the hotels in the region had been booked out. The Village was right in the midst of it and had an atmosphere of its own. It had something of army barracks, but with modern comfort, and the freedom of which at the time they were not sure yet if it could be won. Besides of the solemn memorials, most veterans enjoyed a vacation with their family and the attention they were getting in the Nest! café.
That place was not only about enjoying a good beer, there were story telling afternoons, where the oral history of the veterans was recorded and a nice exchange was possible with the young people who were settling now on the grounds they once fought for. The event tent was more the realm of the young people. It was always full of life there and festivities and activities were taking place regularly. One such event was the wedding of Carla and Henk later that year. Almost all the inhabitants of the new Schuytgraaf neighborhood, as well as the Nest! pioneers were present to celebrate this first couple of their community to get married.
This big event made Schuytgraaf known to the public in a positive way. Up till then the area had only gotten negative publicity, there had been legal procedures, endless delays and people were starting to get the impression that if anything were ever built, it would be accessible only for the rich. The marketing strategy of the GEM in engaging so actively in the battle of Arnhem memorials turned around that negative spiral. With the Freedom Village they were showing that Schuytgraaf was more than ‘just’ a bunch of beautiful houses, that it was a way of life. After the initial summer the hotel accommodations are used as temporary housing. A vibrant Nest! community of pioneers moves in, consisting of starter families, migrants, students and artists. They develop a large range of services, events and activities for the beginning Vinex settlement. Schuytgraaf gets a name as an attractive living environment. The number of people who move out of Arnhem to the nearby Vinex settlement of Westerraam starts to decrease. In the course of 2006 and 2007 there is a distinct increase in the number of inhabitants from Arnhem. Also people who had been commuting before, now decide to take up residence in the town of their work. And for good reason; this place is different from the average new neighborhood, it has more atmosphere, more services, more life to it.
The Nest! settlement gave a possibility for starters on the housing market, like Carla and Henk, to at least for the time being, settle down in Schuytgraaf. All together the result was, that the housing market got back on its feet much quicker in Arnhem than in other towns of the region.
The Nest! and Schuytgraaf are not just pleasant places to live, there is also more and more small scaled business activities coming off the ground. The Local Economy Organization combines activities that would not be profitable or feasible by themselves, but in the cooperative form they do work. The Local Job Agency offers a wide range of services on the community website and you can also go there if you have a special request, like help in the organization of a children’s birthday party. The Nest! childcare facilities, the repair-service, the dog-walking service and other services that make busy working life easier, do good business. For couples, who both work, it is simply too much to get everything done and still keep some time for sport or other leisure activities. And the services of the Nest! are quite affordable.
The Saturday morning plant exchange is very well visited. New inhabitants come there not only to get ideas for their garden, but also simply to meet the people who live in their new neighborhood.
A number of people who have no time or interest to get into a new hobby, leave the design and set up of their garden to the Nest! pioneers altogether. The International Garden of the settlement is located on the utmost southwestern corner of Schuytgraaf, in field 23. It has both individual plots and a communal garden that serves as a public park in these first stages of Schuytgraaf when not much of the public facilities are ready yet. The International Garden is located so close to the first houses of Schuytgraaf, that a good link between the temporary settlement and the permanent neighborhood is possible. It is an open and informal place that makes it easily accessible and a low threshold place to make new contacts. For the children it is an opportunity to play and meet other kids, for their parents the garden is an inspiration to get going on their own garden.
The park like part of the garden will continue to exist in the final situation as the public green around this field. The individual plots will give way in some years to come, to the development of the last houses to be built on this “Freedom Field”. Together with “Global Village” next to it, these two last fields of Schuytgraaf are the exercise for the Nest! Neighborhood Academy to develop. The Nest! pioneers, together with Schuytgraaf inhabitants and people wanting to shape their own living environment, are working together there with the GEM Schuytgraaf. The plans made for these fields take longer than those that were made for the others, but it is a bit hard to compare. It is not just that the partnership working on these last two fields is larger, the task they have taken up is much wider too. Not just the physical living environment is developed, the vision building workshops with the future inhabitants also start building up a community long before one stone is put down. The future communities of both the Freedom Field and the Global Village are very alive. They have developed an interactive virtual community on their website and participate actively in children’s vacation activities and family barbecues organized during the summer in the Nest!. The development of the housing, the facilities, the design of public space and social programs of these two fields are getting more and more fine-tuned to the wishes and needs of their inhabitants.
Carla and Henk make use of the low rent they pay for their cabin to save for their own house. They take part in the Building Society to get together a part of their mortgage. Besides of that Carla is member of the ‘Hot Money’ saving circle organized by the Mother Center. That turns out to be quite a bit more than just saving 50 Euro per month to be able to face up to disasters like broken down washing machines. Putting your money together and discussing financial issues, requires a trust and a strong bond that you usually do not develop that easily with your neighbors. It also helps the young family to be in control of their finances and Carla and Henk do not have to skip outings anymore towards the end of the month.
From the start they are part of the building group, which is a collaborative effort between the Temporary Housing Co-op and the Nest! Neighborhood Academy to develop the two last fields of Schuytgraaf. They work on the plans for the house they want to build there for themselves and they also participate on developing the houses that will be sold. There are endless debates about the level of sustainability and technological innovation to save energy compared to the height of the investments that is still acceptable. It is fun to participate in these discussions and witness how compromises are being made, like on the number of parking spaces compared to the amount of public green space. It is transparent to all how they have come about, so everybody can live with the outcome.
The building group is also a small source of additional income. Especially Henk enjoys using his ‘golden hands’ to make dream kitchens to size and participate in other building activities the group is engaged in. Carla is more into the activities of the Mother Center. Especially when Peter’s little sister is born, their cabin is getting rather small to hang around 24 hours a day. Besides of that she would get completely insane if she never got to see other adults besides Henk. So Carla can be found in the “public living room” as the Mother Center is often called most of the time. She is there either as a guest or on Wednesday morning and Tuesday afternoon as the hostess, which brings her some extra Local Currency. After a while she gets courageous and organizes a yoga course. This is quite a success and a lot of women participate.
From 2009 onwards, the temporary settlement starts to shrink. The frontier of Schuytgraaf itself is coming closer and closer. The first neighbors are starting to move on to their finished house in other parts of Schuytgraaf. Every month one of the participants of the Building Society is selected by the notary to collect all savings of that month, so they can move on buying a house. Others have been on the waiting list for a rental house long enough and move out to another part of Arnhem. Those are relatively few. Once you have been getting used to having the green, the community, the security and space of the Nest!, it is hard to settle for less.
So there is quite a number of people who postpone going for permanent housing and decide to move to the temporary settlement that is being started in Nijmegen to get some speed into the Vinex location ‘Waalsprong’.
Even though the Nest! settlement is shrinking in size, the atmosphere stays. After all, the people take their pioneer spirit to their new house elsewhere in Schuytgraaf. They keep on visiting the Mother Center and other facilities of the settlement, the ‘Ne(s)t-work’, the network of pioneers, remains active for quite a while after the settlement has ceased to be and forms a solid base for the new Schuytgraaf community. The end of the Nest! comes in late 2013. The temporary lease of the land is ended and the Temporary Housing Co-op is dissolved. The remaining housing units are sold to the Nijmegen settlement and the remaining capital of the Local Economy Organization is transferred to Euro and divided amongst the pioneers and other shareholders.
Henk and Carla don’t feel like moving to the temporary settlement in Nijmegen. They want to stay where the children go to school, where they have their friends and where all the facilities are; they don’t think a moment of leaving Schuytgraaf. So they rent one of the apartments in Schuytgraaf, while awaiting the completion of their dream house. This is the last house, on the last row of the last field of Schuytgraaf. It took them over ten years to obtain it, but it is all theirs, they built it almost with their own hands. Over the years they saw the plans growing, from something that was far beyond their horizon, to a possibility within reac
h of their financial capacity. The mayor handing over the key to their son is a beautiful ending of their voyage to conquer a new horizon, they have made it!
In 2015 an elderly Mies Bouman, the same popular TV personality who opened the famous Arnhem “Village” for the handicapped in the sixties, opens the “Care Community” together with the Minister of Care. The Northern part of Arnhem, ranging from the Zoo to the neighborhood “Geitenkamp”, has been transformed into a luscious well being zone. North of the Beukenlaan is a beautifully landscaped 18 holes golf-course. There is a Spa, care facilities and housing, tucked away in new nature development. The municipality has developed this area over the past decades to the point where Arnhem can really live up to its reputation of a pleasant place for well to do pensioners.
It started in 2004. There had been a long period of uncertainty about the direction to go with the Northern part of town. Several plans, like a hotel, a parking and transfer facility, as well as housing development had been suggested and rejected. To get out of the deadlock and at the same time postpone final decisions, the municipal council decided to establish in the meanwhile a temporary settlement in the area. There a platform with all stakeholders would be organized to come to a balanced decision about the best course of action to take about the different interrelated issues playing a role in this part of the town. Besides of that, the temporary settlement provided cheap accommodation, which was more then welcome, especially amongst refugees who had to start at the end of the long waiting lists of the housing corporations, once they had received their status. Despite the large number of social housing units in Arnhem, there was a shortage in this segment of the market. By providing temporary housing, the time could be covered till the houses were ready that were needed at the upper end of the market for people no longer in need of social housing to move out.
The Nest! temporary settlement was put up on the grounds of the former army base “the Saxon Weimar”. The old buildings already housed a number of artists, resulting in a nice exchange between the old and the new population of the base. There are communal meals with an interesting international cuisine being organized as well as multicultural disco parties. When no events are taking place, the Mother Center is the favored meeting place, also for people who do not have children, but simply like the atmosphere. Especially people who have not been very long in the Netherlands and do not master the Dutch language yet, come here and see the world go by. Consumption here is affordable. Nobody makes a fuss if you sit for a long time just reading the newspaper or looking at the information material.
Over time, if you are not drawn into the social interaction by your children breaking the ice, then you might be approached by the hostess on duty for a little chat. This way newcomers feel at ease and get involved in the activities going on and the courses being offered by the Nest! Neighborhood Academy in their own timing. Especially the Dutch course following the Luna method (named after the Mother Center where it was developed) is popular: it is not school-like, but a fun way of getting to know people and learning the language so you can communicate with them.
The starting capital for the Nest! settlement has been provided by a housing corporation in the region in the form of an interest free loan. This way the Corporation can use its surplus capital in line with its objectives on a project of its own choice, without running the risk of the Housing Ministry assigning binding guidelines for investment projects. The Nest! is a collaborative effort of the corporation, the Municipality of Arnhem as the leading partner, and local and provincial care institutions. The expectations about the preventive effects that the settlement may have are rather high. There is a lot of attention for the initiative, that is closely monitored and documented both by universities and governmental welfare institutions.
They do not have to wait long to note results. The participation and integration levels amongst Nest! pioneers is much higher than average. The marks in Arnhem on the compulsory exams on the Dutch language and culture are the best in the country. This is rewarded with an extra bonus for the integration budget of the city. Much of the success is related to the fact that the Nest! pioneers easily find jobs. The Local Job Agency provides for a real need. Mouth to mouth advertisement spreads the word that in the Nest! reliable eldercare, skillful handymen, and devoted gardeners can be hired. The services are legal and at the same time low in price. Because of the peer control in the organization, a constant level of quality can be maintained. This is what many people in Arnhem had been waiting for and soon enough one third of the households in the area subscribe to one or the other of the Nest! services.
Most of those pioneers leave the Nest! after a few years. They learn the language and the social and technical skills that are needed to find a job on the regular labor market. Their know how to find their way in society has increased; they have larger networks, master the language and have developed better social skills as well as more self-confidence thanks to the courses and activities in the Nest! Academy. As a result they can find a place to live after a while and are not solely dependent on what the housing corporation has to offer.
And after all, the temporary housing units are a bit small and do not have a very high status. They want to move up in society. The empty places in the Nest! are quickly taken up by citizens from the new EU countries like Bulgaria and Rumania.
Through this process of social mobility, the Nest! has given the city its function back as a motor of emancipation. People move from rural areas to town and work to establish themselves, saving as much as possible on the expenditure for daily living. The Nest! is a pleasant place, it is a cheap place and offers plenty of start-off opportunities and chances to do something and make something of your life. The Local Job Agency encourages initiatives and the Savings and Loan Division of the Local Economy Organization gives small business loans if you come with a good idea. Part of these loans come in Local Currency, so you can hire the expertise available in the Nest!. The loans in Local Currency can also be paid back fairly easily, because there is always work available for active pioneers. This dynamic is not only appreciated by new migrants. The whole of Arnhem enjoys the services and care provision that is being organized by the creative collective of small entrepreneurs from the Nest! settlement.
The success of these services gives the municipality the idea to profile the city with it. In 2008 one of the city councilors launches the plan to focus the city branding policy fully on care. Arnhem is to be the Florida of the Netherlands. The Dutch weather might be hopeless, but at least the social climate turns out to be adaptable, it can be made quite a bit warmer.
The green image that Arnhem has always had, together with the good services and care being offered in the Nest! make it the ideal place to open a spa. The concept of “Luscious Living” is introduced, and Arnhem is promoted as the ultimate place to do so.
The development of the premises takes a fairly long time. The first building activities start as early as 2010, but the total concept is not ready till 2015. It is ideal timing. The baby boom generation has reached retirement age so there is a growing interest to explore the possibilities of the new life cycle they have now entered. The Nest! development plan for the care village offers perspectives that are simply way out of reach of the capacities of other towns.
The market for the Arnhem Nest! pioneers expands. Members of the building group travel all over the country to take inventory of the needs and requirements of those who want to invest in a “Living Arrangement Lease”. These leases include first of all a house, that is being commissioned to the wishes of the client. Such a house consists of several components. Additional rooms, like guest rooms or hobby space, are mostly sold on a time sharing basis, which allows the customers to have a rather small core apartment. This way people do not have to worry about the maintenance of space that is barely used anyway. Many people choose the option to rent the garden, so they can easily get rid of it, if at some point the maintenance becomes too hard.
The border between real estate and services is starting to blur. “Transport” of a certain level of intensity or luxury is being purchased with the house. This may include a normal garage for your own car, but it can also be a guarantee that either a rental car is available in the communal garage, or that transport by taxi or other public transport services is provided, whenever needed.
Service and care become rather synonymous. The project attracts a lot of people whose physical condition requires extra care and assistance from medical professionals. Most of the people who inscribe for the care package, want to make sure they can get good care if they may need it in the future and in the meanwhile just like the luxury of well serviced living. Especially in summer there are quite a number of people who join the Nest! for a couple of weeks, by simply putting down their camper on the Nest! grounds.
Shortly after the opening of the Arnhem Care Village, the temporary settlement is closed down completely. Ever since 2012 it had been decreasing in size and a large number of the housing units had been shipped away already as donations to social projects in developing countries.
When the Nest! is ended, the remaining containers are sold for a very affordable price to a sister town of Arnhem in Kazakhstan. Because of this low sale price, the ending balance of the Nest! Local Economy Organization comes to zero. There are no losses, but also no profits to distribute amongst the pioneers. They do not really need that either. They have found their way and can find work and housing elsewhere easily.
The Care Village has given a large supply of good quality housing in the upper segments of the market. This has resulted in a loosening up of the congested housing market. People are moving again and especially in Presikhaaf there are a lot of very affordable good apartments for rent to be found without having to search or wait too long.
That does not mean that the Saxon Weimar base gets torn down completely to make way for the facilities of the Care Village. The architecture of the buildings is much appreciated and it is turned back to its original function by housing youngsters who do their draft service. In 2015 the obligation of a year of service is reestablished for both men and women of 18 years. It is not a military service but a social service. The management of the Care Village happily uses this opportunity of state provided labor to keep the expenses of the complex affordable.