On Sunday, 24 May, I have joined a bike tour organized by the Architecture Centre of Utrecht, Aorta. This tour was supposed to introduce an urban development of an area called Leidsche Rhijn around Utrecht. This area is famous as a remain of Romans archeological site but also functioned as a satelite city of Utrecht.

The tour started at 2pm around the Utrecht Central Station led by an architect. There were 12 participants. This kind of tour requires minimum 6 participants and maximum 16 participants. So 12 was an ideal number. The guide was an architect who knew a lot of detail of every development of Utrecht and Leidsche Rhijn. That made the tour worth doing, very informative and entertaining.

I have learned that every town planning is a delicate political issue everywhere in the world. There is always tension amongst stakeholders and it is impossible to make everybody happy. Knowing this fact happened, too, in Holland, at least made at ease thinking about how complicated town planning in Indonesia. The difference is, in Holland all decisions should go through elaborate studies and discussions and all stakeholders have to agree. It is a collective effort. It might takes ages to go through the whole process but it must be done. While in Indonesia, sometimes a mayor of a city could have a say based on personal interest and the rest will follow. Correct me if I am wrong but that what I have experienced. The result could be a disaster because the town planning becomes very incidental, organic and temporary. A long term plan seems too luxury too afford because every mayor would like to prove his/her own taste. It doesn't mean masterplan doesn't exist. It doesn't mean collective discussions amongst stakeholders don't exist. They are all there. It could be very confusing and frustating to know that what you learn about procedure doesn't always apply in the reality. Two different worlds.

The guide yesterday said also some frustations and failures in creating a satellite city as they wished. More because of technical miscalculation. For example, an area in Leidsche Rhijn that should be lively but appeared to be quiet because the inhabitants prefer to go to the old city centre. How to create a lively new city centre? How to make it as a place where people loves to go, enjoy themselves with some atmosphere of joyful? It is very difficult to create. This kind of challenge that happen more in the case of Leidsche Rhijn. You can't beat the time. The city centre of Utrecht is very old while the development of Leidsche Rhijn was only started in 1997.

We visited various type of houses, community initiatives and public buildings including the Romans remnants site. Surely this was one of my favourite tour.


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