Erik Pasveer
head of the Department of Urbanism at the Municipality of The Hague

by Christa van Vlodrop

1. Background

Raised in Leeuwarden, studied in Delft, at the University of Technology. Then research and teaching at various universities and Academies of Architecture. Urban planner for the Municipality of Amsterdam, advisor and project manager at BVR adviseurs, head of the spatial planning department in the Municipality of Delft. Currently head of the Department of Urbanism at the Municipality of The Hague.

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

Urbanism is about connection. It connects the social with the physical. It combines craftsmanship with democratic governance and political debate. It combines aesthetics with technology. It combines perspectives, near and far, fast and slow, preservation and renewal. The city connects us with past generations and their contribution to human settlements.

3. Best city

Barcelona. City of Wonders. Living textbook Urbanism. Great place to be. The direct seaside location provides social and economic dynamics, a rich and an attractive palette of sensations in smell, sound, light and color. And encourages designing the transition zone between city and sea. City full of stories.

4. Most beautiful building

Wrong question to an urban planner. An urban planner should not take the place of an architect, but make suitable space where architecture can originate. But alright: the town hall in The Hague by Richard Meier. It combines great skill with an authentic vision and managerial courage. A formidable statement for the heart of the city. For urbanization. And a very beautiful building.

5. Most beautiful park or square

‘De Prinsentuin’ in Leeuwarden. Endlessly wandered around in and a place full of personal memories. A place with a nice stratification: of old city walls and in the 19th century transformed into a small but beautiful park. A strong form with varied use. True understanding of quality is through personal experience.

6. Best public facility / urban infill

‘De Afsluitdijk’. Without a doubt and distance. The dike combines technical excellence with a broad and collective agenda for the country as a whole. Safety. Land Reclamation. A symbolic act that shapes an optimistic vision of the future. And above all: that gives form to the beautiful inertia of the landscape.

7. Best 20th and 21st century innovations

Beware of false prophets. History of the profession is full of disastrous city-experiments. The relationship between urban development and innovation is uncomfortable. Genuine curiosity and an empirical attitude are more important than innovativeness. The city renews itself, our task is to see and to understand and appreciate. OK, then one, of world-class format: the Housing Act of 1901.

8. Next groundbreaking innovation

Rather understanding than innovation. Our profession is transforming breakthrough by changing the meaning of time. Time not as an obstacle, but as power steering and meaningful, as the basis of urban revenue models, as a category of durability and beauty. In this the profession will commit to new alliances.

9. About the future of cities

The future is a loaded term in our profession. During the period of the expansive city and the urban planning project that we leave in many regions, the future was doable and near. The sharp delay in urban development forces us to re-think this concept.

10. Personal contribution to urban development

To practice and and to share my knowledge, experience and inspiration with students, colleagues and others.

11. Guerrilla in the city?

We can do very well without the metaphor of the struggle in the city. Let's find another term for the emerging self-organization, flexibility and diversity in urban development. A more elegant and more productive analogy than the struggle is that of the dance: Swing City.