Zaanstadt is an example among those cities which, over the past few decades, have joined the movement in Europe for recovering public spaces. To be highlighted particular is the A8ernA, joint prize-winner in the 2006 award of the Prize. The outstanding merit of this intervention–both the commission and the resolution–lies in the treatment of a great paradox. With no modification to its morphology, the motorway, which before was an impenetrable town planning barrier, has now become a large threshold which reunites the city in two senses: first by bringing its three parts back in touch: the south, the north and the River Zaan; second by bringing the citizens together under a single roof which covers the host of uses they demanded and proposed.
In this sense A8ernA is an occupation rather than a work or a construction, to be understood as a reinterpretation of the way to inhabit a pre-existing space. With an attitude which is unusual in interventions on the public space, the solution proposes a new content instead of a new container. As if it were a matter of furnishing an unfriendly house to make it into a home, the pieces are juxtaposed in an amalgam of heterogeneous objects. This deliberately eclectic and fragmentary arrangement counteracts the unitarian character of the monumental presence of the porticoed slab.
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