Edzo Bindels is a principal and partner of West 8 urban design & landscape architecture. He graduated from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, as an Urban Designer. In 2000 Mr. Bindels received the Rotterdam-Maaskant Prize for Young Architects and published his book “4. Edzo Bindels, Ruurd Gietema, Henk Hartzema, Arjan Klok”. He also took on a teaching position at the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam and Rotterdam and at the Delft University of Technology. Mr. Bindels has lead multiple design winning teams for projects such as Madrid RIO, Spain and Playa de Palma in Mallorca, Spain. Other important projects include the masterplan for Vathorst in Amersfoort, the Coolsingel in Rotterdam, the Leerpark in Dordrecht, Rio Cali Park in Colombia and New Holland in St. Petersburg.
In 1997 the "Plan General de Madrid" determined an extensive growth of the urban fabric to the limits of the municipality. a plan that would mean the occupation of the last resources of vacant land by urban developments.
The region's economy, based on the construction of housing developments, expected to produce 200.000 new housing that would host 600.000 new inhabitants in an unprecedent instant growth to be developed in 15 years. The first results of the plan have seen the birth of the new neighbourhoods, resulting in an archipielago of enormous islands of generic blocks floating in a network of roads and infrastructure.
Today, and after the economical crisis has stopped dramatically the construction works of the remaining developments, a new landscape appears in front of our eyes. Hundreds of empty blocks remain in an uncertain stand-by status waiting for a future.
The pause brings time to re-think slowly.
What to do with all these areas? Is it possible for the city to reunite again with the myth of its native landscape by creating a new environment that brings identity and coherence? Can we think in time-strategies for the occupation of land? Is it possible to mitigate the ecological footstep of these developments? Can we think on density, diversity, energy, natural resources, forests, as the basic design parameters? Can we search new housing typologies that have a strong relation with this newly created landscape?
"Slow urbanism" is a laboratory that takes an optimistic look to the current situation of the city of Madrid as an opportunity to review the model of growth of the last decade and to research on strategies for a reconfiguration of the existing developments in order to produce slow growing cities where the integration between nature, native landscapes and architecture opens horizons for a sustainable development.