Almere’s evolution is inspiring other cities too, by providing examples of innovative urban planning in action. “Professionals – politicians, architects, city planners – come from all over the world to look and learn from Almere,” says JaapJan Berg, citing particular interest from China. “They have been working on new towns and cities there on a completely different scale – places like Shenzhen. In the UK, I would mention Milton Keynes, and in France, Marne-la-Vallee.”
MVRDV, meanwhile, have drawn on principles from Almere in their ongoing redevelopment of the city centre of the Dutch city of Eindhoven, which aims at allow that city to expand significantly, yet still retain an air of “cosiness”. Cues from Almere include creating green city centre living spaces and using brightly-coloured buildings in striking shapes to enliven the feel of the cityscape.
Principles learned in Almere are also being deployed on a smaller scale in the little Dutch village of Overschild, which saw almost 80% of its homes badly damaged as a result of earthquakes triggered by fracking in the area.
Key ideas trialled in Almere that are being introduced here include the chance for residents to design their own new homes, alongside collective decision making on infrastructure and facilities. “Residents were asked what their wishes were and how they felt the village should look like in 10 years – [then] we have given the residents a toolbox which will give them the help and inspiration needed to take the future into their own hands,” says Winy Maas. »