This is a picture of a Roman Catholic Church in the village of Wijk aan Zee. Winter 2018.
The Netherlands can often been seen as a hyper futuristic country however like many countries – the Netherlands is a country of contrasts. Right now in the winter of 2018 many parts of the Netherlands have been forced to change and to adapt to the digitalization era. For example, in this photograph, if you look very closely, you can see smoke stacks and smoke coming up into the blue sky. This year, that technical industry of the Steel industry, called the Hoogovens locally, will be celebrating the 100 year anniversary. In the past 20 years, the company called the Hoogovens used to have about 24 Thousand workers to take care of the steel industry. Whereas now it is under 7000 workers. This is a concrete example, in my opinion of a combination of digitalization and industrialization.
On the one hand, Wijk aan Zee is beautiful but on the other hand, Wijk aan Zee is a Dutch village that is often torn between digitalization and industry development. The Hoogovens Steel Industry actually has a lot of land around this tiny village and there are lots of stacks of steel extracted water vapour pouring out over the village and the area of Beverwijk, in the regio of IJmond Noord and the Dutch province of North Holland.
A few short years ago this village of Wijk aan Zee was called the Cultural Village of Europe. To me this is a puzzle because what is cultural about Wijk aan Zee? Does culture have to do with people and identity? Or unity and community? Or is there something different all together, such as historic architecture that sums up what one European village has more status and standing then the other one?
In the winter of 2018 this village has almost zero cultural activities. There is a huge amount of individualization and privatization. Most people from the community who were born in this sand-grain pebble size of a city really have no interest in the rest of the world, and their only aim is to keep to themselves and protect their own turf. This is not an altruistic village.
A few years ago, the Dutch Federal Government and the National Schiphol Airport managers were engineering an idea to extend Schiphol International Airport into the North Sea, right outside of Wijk aan Zee. The development of that project is currently dormant, but it goes to show you that globalization en enhanced industrialization and digitalization all have priority over environment and historical architecture. The Netherlands is the same as all the other countries in the world. More often than not, the most powerful override the voices of the small and having high finances and plans of expansion crush villages even when they look special.