Thursday, November 11, 2010

Urban Nature

On the edges of districts less defined pieces of land can be found. These terrain vagues have different characteristics in comparison to the well-designed inner-city areas. In fact, they offer opportunities for temporary use and may enrich the biodiversity of a city. The latter is the case in Tilburg. In the middle of the city there is a small area of no-man’s land. In between the railway station and a garden there is a strip of wilderness. Trees and bushes just grow wildly.

I discovered this hidden ‘urban jungle’, when I made a walk on a larger abandoned space. The city government uses the land to dump garden waste and citizens park their cars. In the corner of the area one can trespass into the strip of urban jungle. The fence is opened up by people and a path leads into the strip. Suddenly it was darker due to the large trees. I felt hidden and was amazed by the somehow untouched character of the area. In cities trees and bushes are taken care of, but here it all just grew. 

I liked the contrast of standing under these trees and being able to see the trains arrive at the railway station. It was unclear where the garden of the commune ended and the strip started. Beer cans and Albert Heijn bags (supermarket) were indicators of former visitors. I wondered who had hanged around here. 

The city government will redevelop the complete railway area in the near future. It is uncertain what will happen to the edges of the area. Hopefully, there will be still space for unexpected experiences and temporary initiatives. In the dense cities of the Netherlands these kind of undefined spaces can be seen less and less, which I regret. We have to find a way to allow these spaces to pop-up, be there and leave again.

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