I’ve got the power. // graduation studio authority - graduation project, Eindhoven University of Technology, Almere, the Netherlands, 2014

prof.dipl.-ing. Christian Rapp
ir. Ruurd Roorda
ir. Wouter Hilhorst

For my graduation project, I present a conceptual study around the main research question of my thesis and explore the architectural possibilities within this concept. The main research question was: “Which form of architecture optimally facilitates the new democratic system presented in the study, the “neodemocracy”.

The two basic principles of the “neodemocracy” are citizen partaking and citizen responsibility. Within this new form of democracy, all responsibility of municipalities lies with the citizens of a city. They spot problems, form initiatives and organize fully transparent elections, in which people vote for or against a project plan that solves a certain problem. This project plan is made by a professional project teams and, if possible, with support of the citizens themselves. After a vote passes with a substantial majority, the project starts. A key enabler for citizen partaking in this process is interaction. This is why the main theme of the design revolves around the way in which interaction is made possible.

The building invites people to participate in different forms of interaction. The raised, U-shaped tire in the design symbolizes an embracement of the collective of individuals and encourages participation in the processes conducted within the building.
The ground floor represents every district of the Dutch city of Almere, by six separate and open district buildings. These are the buildings in which the first steps are taken by citizens in the “neodemocratic” process. Citizens of a district discuss current problems and initiatives with fellow district members and with municipality personnel inside these buildings. The formulation of initiatives is the first step of “neodemocracy”.

On the first floor the other necessary steps in the “neodemocratic” system take place. The shape of the district buildings is copied on this floor and by routes to other district buildings, connections throughout the city are made. Project teams are working on the initiatives that are issued by citizens on a slightly raised platform. The open and light design of this floor enables citizens to visually observe and participate in the process of the “neodemocratic” system when initiatives are turned into projects after a vote. It is critical that the citizens of districts stay involved after this step. From this floor, thanks to the U-shape, the rest of the building and the square can be overseen in a flash. This creates a feeling of connection and transparency.

On the second floor, the ongoing projects are coordinated and controlled on a functional level. This floor is also very open and has a practical design to facilitate the functions of the municipality. Because of this openness, the notion of transparency is, again, reinforced. This functional level informs people on the municipality-wide effects of projects, and their influence on the “well-being” of the entire municipality. Also, the interaction between personnel on the functional level enables a well-controlled and complete oversight on all the separate projects within the “neodemocracy”, by enforcing the interaction between people with different field of expertise.

The open, U-shaped design of each floor stimulates citizens of a municipality to thoroughly think of the space and facilities they share. This creates a connection between them. Elements of old Greece can be found in the design. It refers to the democratic process that took place in the open “agora”, with its surrounding “stoai”. The open design that this agora used to have and the steps in the political process in every part of the “stoai” are translated into the building. An example of this is the slightly raised platform on which project teams are working. This design refers to the highly interactive form of democracy in the old Greece, but with an incorporation of the necessities of the new democratic system, which will reinforce the partaking of citizens in the politics of their local government.