“There is hardly any space left in Eindhoven to build,” alderman Yasin Torunoglu starts, “and most of the former office buildings have already been transformed.” Professor Elphi Nelissen, former dean of TU/e’s department of the Built Environment and one of the members of the discussion panel, states the government’s building target: “We need to build one million extra homes over the next ten years in the Netherlands to meet housing demand. One hundred and twenty thousand of these homes need to be built in Brabant, of quarter of which in Eindhoven.”
That is why the municipality has drawn up a vision for a compact city: “Don’t forget: the word ‘vision’ is unclear. In our vision, we create the conditions for high-rise development, but we don’t have to choose that option. It’s not a plan yet,” city official Jean van Zeeland explains.
Urban planner Herman Kerkdijk clarifies the vision: “We’re sitting in the former Light Tower right now. This beacon of our city was built in 1921 and used to be the tallest building in the Netherlands with a height of 48 meters. But the city changes. Suddenly we’re in Brainport.”
It will be possible to construct buildings up to 105 meters in the city center and the de Bergen district if it were up to Kerkdijk. He envisions buildings up to between 135 and 160 meters on town hall square. “It’s a square and it will remain one, a place for celebration and mourning,” he says. “It has to be Eindhoven’s dancefloor.”
After the urban planner’s presentation, it’s time for questions from city center residents. Not for answers. “We are identifying the problematic issues,” says the discussion moderator. And there a number of problems. The amenity level for residents, infrastructure, the costs; these are all sources of concern for those present. “Why are we heading for Dubai on the Dommel?” and “Will the health of occupants in adjacent low-rise buildings be taken into account? With fall winds, the battle against heat and particle concentration?”
Elphi Nelissen puts the residents at ease and says that wind nuisance can be predicted and should be taken into account. Her most important message, which she keeps repeating, is that a transition to a circular way of building should be realized. “That has to be the standard in the Netherlands by 2050. All raw materials need to be made suitable for reuse. Perhaps we need to use biomaterials. But we already have to start thinking before we start to build.” As far as that is concerned, Eindhoven’s District E (the station area, ed.) is a missed opportunity. “There, they simply start with concrete on the ground floors.”