Less is more
Heerlen is one of The Netherlands' most rapidly shrinking towns. In the district of Hoensbroek alone around 1100 apartments are scheduled for demolition by 2025. The consequences are already making themselves felt: empty shops in the town centre, terraced houses for sale in neighbouring residential areas, large numbers of old people, schools earmarked for demolition. Master plans, including the plans for partial demolition of housing prepared by local housing associations, do not provide a sufficient response to the challenge of shrinking. Urban Catalyststudio and de Zwarte Hond propose a more strategic and integrated approach complementing demolition plans with empowerment measures for local communities. Through minimal measures for example, local residents are enabled to appropriate demolished sites or transform vacant terraced housing into workshops or commercial spaces. Vacancy is no longer seen as producing eyes-sores but as generating new spaces for experiment - positive anchors for new local identities.