Evert Verhagen
founder and owner of
REUSE BV / Creative Cities

by Christa van Vlodrop

1. Background

Physical Geography at the University of Amsterdam. I have been project manager for the Westergasfabriek, and thus winner of the Gouden Piramide 2004, the State Prize for outstanding patronage. Compiler of the book and the conference 'Creativity and the City'. At the moment I'm the project manager for the Noorderpark, consultant for the redevelopment of a former slaughterhouse in Casablanca and co-initiator of the Harbour Safari.

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

During my studies I lived in the Bijlmer. I had always wondered who had invented this and why. I also wrote a book about it: 'Van Bijlmerpolder tot Amsterdam Zuidoost'. I worked for the municipality, first in the Bijlmer, later in urban renewal and after that as initiator for urban transformation.

3. Best city

Sydney. The city has icons, is beautifully situated, is multicultural and has a vibrant life inside and outside.

4. Most beautiful building

The Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, designed by Ben van Berkel, UNStudio. A fantastic building, unbelievably well designed and delivers everything it promises.

5. Most beautiful park or square

I really can't think of anything other than the Culturepark Westergasfabriek as most beautiful park.

6. Best public facility /
urban infill

A year ago I was in Brazil, on the beach and promenade of the Copa Cabana. Insanely well done. The materials, width and skirting: fantastic. The Eixample in Barcelona. This 19th-century urban renewal with the diagonal and cut corners at all intersections.

7. Best 20th and 21st century innovations

Undoubtedly the computer. But dangerous. Imagine a weapon that could wipe out all computers at the same time, then you would be happier in Nepal...

8. Next groundbreaking innovation

Genetic engineering, which will really change everything. Cure and prevent disease. But it will also rearrange the food chain. This again has everything to do with cities because the only way a city is sustainable is if the food supply is ok.

9. About the future of cities

The city is the place where everything comes together. It is the place to meet and be creative. In the future more people will be living in cities than at present. It will be a huge task to keep cities green, clean and safe. Cities are increasingly competing with each other, yet they all in fact succeed. As long as they manage to retain their talent and opportunities.

10. Personal contribution to urban development

A well designed public space where people can meet and where everything is possible, even that which has not yet been invented, I find invaluable for the city. I'm glad I was allowed to manage the Westerpark. In the Noorderpark hopefully something similar will happen. Perhaps the other two wind directions will follow.

11. Guerrilla in the city?

That I am interested in. When I lived in the Bijlmer we were already placing things nobody was expecting. In the area of the Westergasfabriek, in the nineties, especially the temporary filling was still a kind of guerrilla. Toneelgroep Amsterdam received less subsidies because they had the guts to go to the Westergasfabriek. Now in the Noorderpark I do everything possible to create some liveliness. The Noorderkamer (designed by Meili Peter Architekten) I bought for 1 euro in Hoogvliet. Suddenly there were two empty gas stations, I cleaned them up and now they are home to cultural groups. The guerrilla war continues ...