About the choice for randomness The municipalities of Almere and Zeewolde have always been in the lead regarding self-building and private commissioning. Over the last decades, people have been allowed increasingly more room to determine their own living and working environments, as can be seen in neighbourhoods such as Polderwijk in Zeewolde and Homeruskwartier in Almere.
However, no matter how ‘free’ the plots in these neighbourhoods may be, they are still part of a preestablished urban development design. But in Oosterwold, the municipalities go a step further by asking themselves: what happens if we leave area development entirely to individual initiative? What will this area look like if the residents not only have a say in the design of their own home but also in activities, roads and paths, green areas, water and public spaces? To make this possible, the authorities are taking a step back.
Organic area development This also means taking a step back to the sort of organic area development that took place at earlier times. Before the twentieth century, the development of the landscape was largely determined by randomness and private initiative. Similar areas such as the Achterhoek in the eastern Netherlands and Het Gooi, the area around Hilversum, also grew organically.
Oosterwold will not develop in entirely the same way. After all, the above-mentioned areas have developed over centuries, while Oosterwold will develop in only a few decades. At least, that is the expectation, because nobody knows how fast this will happen any more than they know what the final result will look like. In choosing an organic development strategy, the municipalities are taking randomness as their starting point.
Not everything will be left to run its course, because – as opposed to earlier times – this landscape is not unspoiled. It has already been designed in some way and we want to retain qualities such as its open, countryside character.
Finally, there must be a legal basis to enable this sort of development. For this, the municipalities have drawn up a structural vision, based on which permits can be granted to initiators. This vision is the basis for the clear set of rules for everyone who wishes to help build the future of Oosterwold.
Vision of the future
How will the development of Oosterwold unfurl further? When will it start and how long will it go on for? And what will Oosterwold look like? To answer the last question first, nobody knows. Perhaps nothing will happen for a long time; perhaps Oosterwold will be unrecognisable in ten years’ time. The speed and intensity will depend entirely on the initiators. This is why you will find no artist’s impressions of the end result here. After all, we simply do not know what it will look like.
What we do know is that Oosterwold will remain green, with a wider variety of vegetation. Oosterwold will also remain agricultural, although there will be a shift from large-scale farming to smaller-scale, sustainable and region-focused initiatives.
And we also know that it can already be done now. The official green light for the new Oosterwold came with the establishment of the structural vision. Anyone who wants to can now take a look around the area, find a place, find out if it’s available and make plans for his own bit of Oosterwold.