Wednesday, 02 July 2008

The district is the hotel I fancy a few days away. The European Urban Knowledge Network has a piece here about art and urban renewal, referring to the neighbourhood of Transvaal in The Hague. The neighbourhood is in the middle of a 15-year period of regeneration, with much demolition, boarding up of properties and what is described as 'a cheerful collection of ghost streets.' So how about Hotel Transvaal, where All rooms have been attractively furnished, some by artists, others by local shopkeepers. You may literally sleep in a work of art, or be seduced by the atmosphere of the different cultures in the neighbourhood. Meals and various odd jobs for the hotel are provided by local entrepreneurs and residents. With defiant originality, the hotel describes itself as just a small operation with a few rooms but also claims to be 'the largest hotel in the world' because 'the district is the hotel.' The rooms of our hotel are situated in houses in an area designated for demolition, a so-called action area. At this moment the surrounding houses are still being lived in, however, in time the original occupants will move. Often these houses will then be used temporarily by students or artists. Also, there are several local organizations that organize interesting cultural activities and events. The hotel rooms never stay in an action area until the very last moment. As soon as too many houses are being boarded up, we will move our rooms to the next action area. In future we also plan to locate rooms in newly built houses that have not yet been sold or let. We are even considering using empty rooms in people's homes. The organization of Hotel Transvaal also has the intention to use the post-demo[li]tion wasteland to realize temporary expansion of hotel facilities. More here. If the only people who visit the hotel are those interested in this approach to 'seeking clues to link the past to the future and by showing that areas in transition really have potential,' then it will still have made a point.

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