Toespraak van staatssecretaris Uslu bij uitreiking Prix de Rome

Staatssecretaris Uslu (OCW) sprak bij de uitreiking van de Prix de Rome. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Good evening, everyone!

I am, of course, looking at 6 people in particular. These young creatives are the reason we are all here.

I have just had an opportunity to admire your work. I have wandered through the worlds you have created, all of which do justice to this year’s theme: Healing Sites.

Healing is very important. Especially in this time of uncertainty, in which we are all concerned about the climate, about how many new homes we can build, and how this will affect nature.

Together, we must find the best way in which to restructure our small country. It is a huge challenge, but I see an important role for the urban planners, architects and landscape architects.

And again, I am looking at this evening’s 6 nominees.  You were able to transform locations, in which some unpleasant past is still tangible, into spaces that invite contemplation and reflection.

Spaces that speak to us and make us think. That reveal not only the strength of healing, but also the strength of the young creatives responsible.

You are able to tap the healing potential of these spaces. That is why society must invest in your talent and ideas; as we do with the Prix de Rome.

It is an award with a very long and eventful history. In the 19nth century, candidates were expected to take part in a sort of ‘boot camp’.

They would be confined to a room in the attic of the Rijksakademie, where they would work from dawn till dusk. Their meals were passed to them through a hatch in the door. I hope that the circumstances for this year’s competition were less spartan!

I have just seen how much work was involved. You had just 4 months in which to take your concepts from rough outline to reality, to refine your ideas.

I invite you to visit those worlds again with me now. Let us enter each of them one more time before I announce the name of the winner.

I shall begin with the Tax Office Complex, where you can almost feel the pain experienced by the victims of the child support scandal. This unfortunate situation dramatically eroded public confidence in the government. It will take much time and effort to regain that confidence, we are working hard to do so.

In its Grounds of [in]Justice project, Studio KIWI proposes the transformation of both the site as a whole and the buildings themselves. Through clear and evident changes, they hope to bring government and the citizen closer together.

Respect for the human dimension will mean that we can once again see ‘eye to eye’. No longer will we be living in a paper reality. The jury acknowledges this, and praises the humorous way in which you have approached such a weighty topic.

Let’s move on to another ‘world’. Not in the Netherlands this time, but in Ukraine. It is the village of Hrabove, the site of the MH17 disaster. Lesia, I would like to address you personally for a moment.

Even in a time in which your own world has been torn apart by a war, you continue to create. You have embraced the chaos. It enables you to take a fresh look at the world around you. You have opted to rely not only on the traditional instruments of architecture, but to take a broader approach.

In No Innocent Landscape, you reveal how illegal mining, geopolitical conflicts and environmental pollution are all intertwined. This is a location where words – both in the past and today – fall short. And as the jury acknowledges, so does the language of architecture.

You managed to transform this space into an oasis of calm. 1 that invites awareness and reflection. That is a remarkable achievement.

This brings us to the third ‘new world’, the so-called ‘Colony of Benevolence’ in Veenhuizen.

This was once the site of a government anti-poverty programme. Orphans, beggars and poor families were brought here and set to work on the land, with the belief that hard work would ‘heal’ them.

The (Dividual) team has taken precisely the opposite approach in Celebrating the Unproductive. This concept is based on the belief that doing absolutely nothing will promote healing. A large area of the landscape should therefore be ‘returned to nature’ and allowed to grow wild. The team has also examined what the community actually needs and has designed an extremely efficient system for water, energy, food and resources production to border the wild area. This radically different interpretation of productivity has also been praised by the jury.

Then the final world: the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.  Arna Mačkić wishes to call architecture to account by transforming the site into the Public Centre for Architectural Disaster and Collective Healing. It will be a focus for the examination of the misery and suffering that architectural disasters have caused, and how we can work together to promote healing. The jury describes the concept as ‘extremely professional’ and speaks highly of the way in which Arna has developed her ideas.

So we have visited 4 locations. All have made a deep impression on me. They have touched me, moved me and inspired me. Each, in its own special way, has demonstrated the strength of healing.

I am so glad that I am not a member of the jury, because I would find it extremely difficult to pick just one winner.

The winner of the Prix de Rome for Architecture 2022, is… Lesia Topolnyk!