Farid Tabarki
founder and director Studio Zeitgeist

by Christa van Vlodrop

1. Background

Studied Political Science at the University of Amsterdam. As founder of Studio Zeitgeist I coordinate research into the (European) zeitgeist. Past findings have been successfully used in different (international) organizations, like Hyves, the Open Society Institute, Rabobank and The European Centre for Culture and Debate in Belgrade. In addition, I present the television shows MTV Coolpolitics and Durf te Denken. As co-founder of The Finishing School, I support talented people in local governments and companies and help them to develop broader. And I am a member of the Supervisory Board of the Netherlands Architecture Institute.

2. Why are you fascinated with
architecture / urban development?

In the past centuries we have centralized control and that was necessary too. The state and international organizations as sources of authority will not disappear, but they can no longer do this alone. Thanks to a more highly educated population and technological developments we are able to radically organize in a different way. Each house is in its own way an energy supplier and we use in the context of the 'New Work' common areas in the district as a second office. We live in a time of radical decentralization, a good indication of where architecture and urbanism play a major role.

3. Best city

Cities like Beirut, Belgrade and Medellín have endured so much stress for so long, although they have regained some peace and quiet, the intensity of life can still can be experienced on every street corner. Of these three cities, Beirut is the most hybrid, and this makes it one of the most intense and fascinating cities in the world. If it's not the geography (snowy mountains and sunny beaches) then it is the mix of ethnic and religious groups, and if that's not enough then 'East meets West' must interest you. But what makes it decisive is that Beirut's motto 'Carpe diem', a bit manic sometimes, is stored in its DNA.

4. Most beautiful building

Sportplaza Mercator in Amsterdam. With its green walls and roof the Sportplaza Mercator is the beginning and the end of the Rembrandt park. Seen from a distance it looks like an overgrown fortress that protects the entrance to a 19th century city. The building is designed as a city, a miniature society, in a cave. It is full of vistas and sight lines that provide a view of the various visitors, activities and cultures in the building.

5. Most beautiful park or square

Promenade Plantée or Coulée verte in Paris is a 4.5 km long park that was built partly on a 19th century former railway viaduct. The Promenade was designed by the landscape architect Jacques Philippe and the architect Vergely Mathieux. Pedestrians walk in a park like setting high above the ground while the ground floor is reserved for the bicycle path. The arches of the viaduct, le Viaduc des Arts, where some areas of the park are converted into shops, galleries and crafts workshops. New York has its own Plantée Promenade, in the form of The High Line.

6. Best public facility / urban infill

The attention that Barcelona paid to public space makes the whole city a large living space for its residents and visitors.

7. Best 20th and 21st century innovations

The bike share programs in cities like Paris and Hangzhou.

8. Next groundbreaking innovation

3D printing: You do not need a large factory and no major retail chain for to offer 3D-printed products. A printer and a store offering internet access is sufficient. In principle, everyone can have their own factory and set up their own products to sell.

9. About the future of cities

Partly due to the rise of the Internet and the service economy, more and more employees work one day a week from home. In addition, more and more Dutch are self-employed and use their house partly as an office. That’s nice, to turn your attic into an office or stare at your dishes while working from home, however, let’s remember that human beings remain social animals and need to also work in a group. The result is the emergence of the hub: an office for small businesses and freelancers who want to inspire each other. It is simply fun to be with other people, to work together rather than to waste away behind your laptop; a place in the neighborhood where you can flip open your laptop and walk around to possibly meet potential business partners -The city and the neighborhoods as networking machines!

10. Personal contribution to urban development

At this moment, I'm busy working on the future of social housing corporations besides other things. The principle of social housing in the beginning of the 20th century and after World War II was quite clear because it was meant to provide housing for everyone. Nowadays their purpose is under pressure. The combination of the current political parties and the need for social housing corporations to create new business plans creates an interesting momentum to restart the discussions about the future of social housing corporations.

11. Guerrilla in the city?

We need to do some serious work in the Netherlands on our roofs. I would say: bring on the lush green terraces, roofgardens and cultivate the land on our roofs. Time for urban (guerrilla) farming!