Took this photograph last Sunday. It is of a yellow bulldozer on the Dutch Coast close to Wijk aan Zee. The vehicle is driving up to the Dutch protected sand dunes and shoveling in to the mountain of sand and vegetation and scoping the beach soil up and driving to the new mounting sand barrier and dropping it down there. This act may seem like a simple enough mechanism but it is actually so much more then that. This North Sea Beach engineer is actually doing two things:  saving the Dutch coast from ruin  protecting the village Wijk aan Zee from the North Sea.
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.
Photographs from City of Victoria BC
The funny thing about these high rise buildings is that they appear to be representing of wealth and prosperity but from where I am standing and in my point of view this is a mirage and very far from the truth. These buildings are an encasement for individuals that may or may not even want to live in the City of Victoria, as according to the local news, many owners of the condo units use their property as an AirBnB.
The majority of the owners of the units in the high rises do not even come from Vancouver Island let alone Victoria. Recently in the Provincial meeting at the Vancouver Conference Center it was mentioned in a seminar by a Simon Fraser PhD professor (in the last week of Sept. 2017. The news article was in the Vancouver Sun newspaper), that the condominiums are going to the Global financial elite who buy from outside of Canada and have the unit as an investment.
That means that while the lower level workers in the City of Victoria are getting out priced of their hometown city, the global financially secure elite get the best units in the city and do not even reside here but instead rent out their units in what the City Hall in the City of Victoria called “Ghost hotels.”
The bottom-line here is that the low income employees living in the City of Victoria can (more often then not) not financially survive in this city because the price of rent for a bachelor apartment, one bedroom or two bedroom apartment is too expensive for their budgets. So this means that in no time, the service industry in the City of Victoria is going to go under, at least to a degree, because the lower financial class who has been doing the service jobs in the City are getting out-priced. This implies they will move out of the city. Already businesses in the City of Victoria has closed their doors because of the lack of staff. The image of tall new high rise buildings appears to mean that the economy in this city is going well, when it a round-about way, the opposite is true.
In a way, the City of Victoria has created a vacuum and we stand on the edge of creating a ghost town. This ghost town would be unique only to the City of Victoria, BC in the way that is was started and it will end in this city. What I predict will happen, and it is always hard to pin-point the financial and economics of a city to an exact science, but it seems that the service industry staff especially the lower spectrum of the working class in the city are going to pack their bags as in an exodus and leave Victoria. This will leave the small business without staff members. Without the lower level employees the economy will at least in part collapse, hence creating a real ghost town.
Photographs taken September 29, 2017 in the City of Victoria, V.I. BC. Canada. On Yates.
It really makes me feel uncomfortable to walk down the center of the city and see impressive buildings lining up the streets, as I know that these buildings are not to help the poor but instead they are designed for the global financial elite. I would have much preferred that the City of Victoria would have been designed like the small town up-island called Chemenius where there is a little local museum and a town filled with stories of their own independent heritage. Instead in the City of Victoria everything is designed in an adhoc manner and there is no sequencing nor cultural heritage lined in the architecture. Often the architecture of the buildings is designed and geared towards an internationalization versus our own City of Victoria culture. It is so clear, it is almost funny, about how the City of Victoria has turned their backs of helping the marginalized and completely focused on the business and housing market of the internationalization of the global financial elite. I wish I could find the silver lining in this one but I cannot. The building designs have no story, no cohesiveness and are rude and abrupt as these high rise buildings represent authority and power in a City of Victoria culture that was previously always low-key and humble. I do not know who had the keys to the city to have had so much power as to allow this brutal mechanism machine of tiles and lined structures to take over the previously humble and low-key city in which I have lived for so long. I understand I am in no position to change the architectural design of the City of Victoria in 2017 but if it was up to me, I would have contracted out a design and a cohesiveness to the city. I would have planned the city in some kind of order and sequencing – because even cities like Islamabad Pakistan had a Greek city planner created their city into Sectors where certain buildings were group together. Even in Islamabad Pakistan, there was a very powerful and humble city structure enabling everyone access to the city by creating an open plan city design.
Why could not the City of Victoria create a vision, like Allan W. Edwards created for the University of Victoria in the 1960’s?
The photographs that I have added show the nature of the economics in the City of Victoria BC. It is boom or bust. On the one hand the city is financially booming with the high rise; and on the other hand businesses in the city are going under daily. To me it is like a cowboy culture of hit and miss and much like what I saw on Wall Street in the New York stock exchange where stockbrokers were making and losing money is minutes, seconds and mini-seconds.
Is this what globalization looks like in 2017 in Canada?
CUB CITIES in CANADA are a group of cities not yet developed in Canada, in which, there will be no highrise buildings and no priorities given to the corporate and political elite on neither the local, provincial, national nor global level, but rather to the individuals of the community first and their peripheral family members. For example, I would like this Cub City in Canada start to be implemented in Victoria City, Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada – the place I am currently living in. September 22, 2017.
Eindhoven is a city in the South of Holland. It started off as a small municipality and once Philips started his famous Philips company the village started to grow. now it is considered to be Holland’s fifth largest cities. What makes Eindhoven a special city? Well it all starts at the Central train station (Eindhoven CS).
In the main hall, there is a quote in large neon yellow letters that reads:
“Conventie, een soort herinnering, is het grootste beletsel om te genieten van leven en kunst.” Piet Mondriaan
Which means convention is the obstacle between art and life.
It is the kind of quote that makes you question your life, your actions and your independent role as an individual. It is because of this one quote that I changed. I changed my vision of the world, my vision of people, my goals, dreams and aspirations, I no longer could find peace within tradition or culture instead I knew I needed to follow my own way.
To me, going to Eindhoven and seeing that quote in the CS was the most valuable experience in my world travels.