Is it Realised? Christophe van Gerrewey and Huub Smeets about utopias in practice

1 March 2018

Architecture philosopher and author Christophe van Gerrewey and Huub Smeets, former director of Urban Development in Maastricht, will discuss utopianism and praxis in architecture, urban design, and reality.

Which places have a belief in the future of urban development, to what extent is it a catalyst for the success or failure of large projects, and what do we learn from this?

For the exhibition Unrealised. Never-Built Maastricht, Christophe van Gerrewey wrote ‘It’s Done’, an essay examining the notion of the unrealised. By definition, a city is never completed, and its unrealised components also shine a light on current attitudes, politics, and economic positions. Consider the unrealised Sea Trade Centre in Zeebrugge – its relevance diminished by the fall of the Berlin Wall – the construction of the Channel Tunnel, and the Schengen Agreement, or even the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, which is still incomplete after a century.

As former urban developer Huub Smeets can also confirm, Maastricht has seen a variety of unrealised or unfinished building plans, from the infamous Campus Maastricht in Randwyck to the development of a commuter city on the Margraten Plateau. From his professional experience, Huub Smeets explains the considerations that a city has to make to influence the design and construction process of such projects. What dreams has Maastricht lived up to, and why have choices derived from one idea and not another? What does the future of Maastricht look like?

Christophe van Gerrewey
Christophe van Gerrewey is an architecture philosopher, author, and essayist. He teaches Architectural Theory at the EPFL in Lausanne. He wrote his PhD, Architecture, A User’s Manual, at the University of Ghent. In 2012, he published his first novel, Op de hoogte (Up to Date) followed in 2013 by Trein met vertraging (The Delayed Train). His third novel Werk werk werk was published in autumn 2017.

Huub Smeets
Huub Smeets is a former director of Urban Development and Land Development at the Municipality of Maastricht (1988–2000) and was responsible for the Céramique and the Maas-Markt projects. He was also director of the Vesteda residential investment fund (2000–2011) and director of Maastricht Cultural Capital 2018.

Moderator: Saskia van Stein, director of Bureau Europa.

Date: 1 March at 20:00
Language: Dutch
Admission: free
Location: Bureau Europa

Image: de Nieuwe Context