New Towns

Podcast (Dutch)

The planned city is a monument to the zeitgeist in which it was conceived. The attempt to force a better future by building it, is infectiously optimistic. View of Lelystad (2012) and later Sister Cities (2014) are a suggestion to put yourself in the shoes of city makers of the past, and of those who further shape their legacy today. Can an idea be the foundation of a city and stand the test of time?

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2012 Review on Lelystad

View of Lelystad investigated how the pioneering spirit of the planned city has embedded itself in the DNA of the new generation citymakers. Melle conducted interviews with eight people at eight different locations in Lelystad from a glass observation carriage called the Schouwwagen. Schouwwagen is roughly translated as a ‘mobile landscape inspection post’. The quadrangle view of the Schouwwagen instructed the interviewer to ‘look hard’. The alderman, the fishmonger, the landscape gardener, the organic farmer, the archaeologist, the urban planner and the theatre director talked about their Lelystad. Melle translated each ‘schouw’ into four drawings that were displayed on the shutters of the Schouwwagen. The exhibition toured to many villages and towns in Flevoland. 

A recurring question in the interviews was the balance between hope and hubris. The belief, or at least the hope, that the living environment shapes us, awakens the Frankenstein in all of us. How do the current city makers in Lelystad deal with this? 

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2014 Sister Cities

An exploratory mission to three New Towns in three countries with three different founding ideas. 

Sister Cities is the sequel to View of Lelystad in 2012. The city makers who were interviewed still showed the firm conviction that you can plan a city and know what it will look like, even after seeing how Lelystad turned out completely different from how it was originally designed. Is it universal hope and hubris, or is it a typical Dutch thing? In order to find out, other planned cities abroad could provide an answer. 

The agricultural city of Lelystad (NL), the chemical city Marl (D) and the university city of Louvain-la-Neuve (B) are built by carefully planning to become the best version of their kind. Caught up by economic, demographic and cultural developments, they all became something their founding fathers could not have foreseen, nor hoped for. 

A team of architects, artists and scientists undertook three exploratory missions in 2014 in search of the inheritance of the foundation stories in the three drawing board cities. Visiting them was an attempt to establish a new sister city bond as there is a lot to learn from each other. However, none of the municipalities were interested in meeting the other family members.  


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Louvain La Neuve

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Location Lelystad, Louvain la Neuve, Marl

Period 2011-2014

Commisioned by Stichting de Barak
Funding ReView on Lelystad
Gemeente Lelystad
Team ReView on Lelystad Melle Smets
Team Sister Cities Christiaan Fruneaux & Edwin Gardner (Monnik), Theo Deutinger & Stefanos Filippas (TD Architects), Tim Verlaan & Mark Minkjan & René Boer (Failed Architecture), Yumemi Kobayashi & Gayane Yerkanyan (HKU), Elias Tieleman
Collaborations ReView on Lelystad Elias Tieleman (Curator), Jan Gras, Job Fackeldey, Ruud Luchtenveld, Andre Holk, Jan Jonkman, Wouter Uijthoven, Nike Ruijter, Jan Kalff