The newspaper thinks that it could be a model for other cities
By Thomas Ansell
British author and journalist Oliver Balch has written a review of the Groninger Forum for the British newspaper The Guardian. Noting that The Forum ‘is seeking to reinvent urban hubs for the post-consumer age’, and that it goes against ‘the promotion of an individualistic society’ and ‘commercialisation of public space’. And could be a model for other cities looking to repair their urban space.
The new building, created to try and make a new section of the city centre, and to replace a number of local libraries, has only been open for a few months but is already attracting people to the city of Groningen, Balch says.
There is lavish praise for the building’s design; it ‘shouts anything but library. Hotel lobby, perhaps? Department store, even?’ But more praise is held for how it helps people connect in the city. The correspondent even finds time to praise that the Forum offers space for the cities’ homeless population.
Perhaps revealingly, Balch notes that all Forum events and activities centre around a common theme. At the moment, it is ‘optimism about the future’; something which very much embodies the Forum’s opening.
A little cold water is thrown onto the love-in, though, with the reasonable point from a University of Groningen academic, Dr Ward Raws, that ‘the core building blocks of community- social capital, civic culture, place identity and so forth- start first at a street-by-street level’. So, whilst the space-age meeting place and cultural hub is a wonderful addition to the city, we mustn’t let it distract us from other issues.
However, it is noted that the Forum has turned traditional design on its head; utilising techniques normally seen in high-end department stores. ‘No security beefs on the door, no blaring Tannoy announcements, no endless queuing.’ Director Dirk Nijdam is quoted as saying it’s all about “the experience”- quite an experience indeed.
Images via the Forum