In 1970 an abandoned military barracks in the Danish capital Copenhagen was squatted. The film Christiania: 40 Years of Occupation combines historical footage from the early days of the commune with interviews with the current residents. It paints a striking picture of the sometimes-explosive relationship between the residents and the government, and the resulting architecture.
Prior to the film a discussion took place between Louike Duran and Robbert de Vrieze, both of whom are involved in residents’ initiatives in Rotterdam. Christiania (Richard Jackman, USA 2014, 76 min.) is a fascinating example of how the meeting of top-down and bottom-up policy-making can lead to alternative forms of urban development, drugs policy and democratic decision-making. What lessons can be learned from Christiania in the current period in which the government is retreating but does not always know how to deal with grass-roots initiatives?
Louike Duran is a visual artist. She lives and works in a studio in the former quarantine hospital at Heijplaat in Rotterdam’s docklands. This complex has had its current cultural function for thirty-six years and is thus the longest-running artists’ initiative in Rotterdam. It provides spaces for cultural entrepreneurs and foundations from a range of backgrounds, from industrial design to music. In 2003 Duran organised QI-Kunsteiland, an open-air exhibition aimed at publicising this art-production site. This led to the establishment of the Kunsteiland Foundation in 2005. As its director Duran initiates art and cultural projects. Duran is also active in Heijplaat in formulating visions for the development of the harbour neighbourhood.
Robbert de Vrieze
Robbert de Vrieze is a social designer and architect with a focus on transformation and self-organisation. With his office/network Transformers, he operates on the boundaries between design, economics and politics. In 2013 he was one of the initiators of WIJ Delfshaven, an apolitical movement and network of residents’ initiatives and grassroots organisations. Via this movement, in March 2014 he joined the Delfshaven local committee in Rotterdam, in which he works for democratic modernisation and a greater voice for local residents. He is also a board member of Delfshaven Coöperatie, a partnership between residents in Rotterdam West, Rotterdam City Council, Havensteder and Rabobank.
This Cinema Night was organised in partnership with Urban Unlimited, office for urban research and cinematic events.