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Perfectly Happy in Vinex-Land
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Perfectly Happy in Vinex-Land

(Marieke van Rooy) The Low Countries - 2006, № 14, pp. 107-114

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The Supplement to the Fourth Policy Document on Spatial Planning (in Dutch: ‘Vierde Ruimtelijke Nota Extra, hence VINEX) set out a plan for 635,000 new houses to be built between 1995 and 2005 at inner city locations and on the outskirts of cities. These dwellings are needed to accommodate the growing number of families, but particularly also to keep the well-to-do middle classes in the cities. The launch of Vinex provoked immediate and constant criticism, mainly from experts in architecture. ‘The ghettos of the future' and ‘an avalanche of doorzonwoningen' are some of the critical comments made at the beginning of the nineties. It would be short-sighted, though, to brand these Vinex suburbs as failures solely on the basis of criticism by the professionals. Surely, isn't it just as important to look at the experiences and opinions of the people who actually live there? And here you are faced with a paradox. For it appears from various studies that the Vinex-dwellers are, with a few reservations– such as the lack of facilities and the delay in providing decent public transport – very satisfied with their new biotope.They seem totally contented with their own little patch of suburbia. So perhaps after all the average Dutch person is not hankering after all kinds of new features for the interior of his house. And is that really so strange? Isn't it the case that in this age when image is everything we derive our image increasingly from externals such as clothing, cars and mobile phones?

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