Friday, September 12, 2008

Netherlands: Volkstuintje

An interesting part of the Dutch landscape that instantly caught my eye was the Volkstuintje. These gardening areas, which are very common to see from the trains, seemed to initially reflect some of the smaller, more chaotic shanties that develop in other parts of the world, as people search for a small space to build a small structure. The notion is similar from a formal view, but in reality fundamentally different. Since most traditional housing had been pretty dense in the cities without much individual space, these spaces allowed people to get away without really getting away. It is an extension of the home, but not physically connected. But, these spaces are highly controlled and regulated, and they cannot be built beyond a certain size, and it is prohibited to spend the night there. I found them fascinating, beautiful, and refreshing….When it comes to the built environment, the Dutch don’t play around. Most of them have sinks, wood stoves, and lounge furniture. Talk about garden sheds….

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