These are the Sibbelpanden at the Hoogte Kadijk, an early city levee of Amsterdam.
The Sibbelpanden are not inhabited and are waiting for a destinantion. Opknappen
of afbreken? Recover or tear down?
Achter de ramen
To soften the desolate impression of the block the owner (Housecorporation "De
Key") put some photoart up the windows to suggest their is still people
living there. The project is called Achter de ramen - Behind the Windows.
Viva La Comments I took pictures of "the windows" of the Sibbelpanden and
posted them on Flickr. Few contacts made comments to it.
A Touch of Dutch said: This is a very cool concept. Curtains
are always open in the Netherlands. I'm home today with my shades open. Trying
to be Dutch ;)
And Citipix reacted: This is so beautiful, and such an artistic
concept. I'm reading the above comment, about windows being open in Amsterdam.
I love to learn about those things. It really makes the artwork more meaningful,
to know a bit of the culture behind it. Very Cool :-)
Open curtains As i wanne be a good Flickerite i returned an elaborate reaction. I quote
it in the remains of this blog.
Citypix the comment of A Touch of Dutch refers at the curtains in the Netherlands
always being open, even at night. That is an old observation/habit/expression
which is often brought up in cultural discussions about the Dutchies - a realm
where A Touch of Dutch blogs
(in English). I dont know if its a general true or not, cause me - for example
- i am used to live in situations where i close the curtains whenever i feel
Good and bad
What is involved is a "norm", a "should be" that is supposed
to be valid for Dutch homely behavior. When you have a house with windows on
the street, you are supposed to keep the curtains open as a form of good
behavior. When you would wanne close the curtains, people from the street
cannot look into your house and the question that might come up with neighbours
and passengers is: why do you wanne prevent that? In Dutch civil reasoning you
only want the curtains to be closed, when you got something to hide, something
privately deviant, something unhonorable, something bad. So keeping the
windows open means showing you live up to your neighbours expectations, and
you are a good person.
What's he building in there?
Keeping the windows open is a kind of living up to the reasoning you meet in
Tom Waits What's he building in there (view the clip or read the lyrics).
And as Tom Waits is not Dutch it might be save to say suspicion for closed windows
is a more humane small minded trait.
Two Way Traffic
The other side of this small mindedness is of course that when windows are closed,
you can not only look in but you can not look out either. And here is
a social dimension involved that is called upon in the photoart of project "Achter
de ramen". When there are no private eyes that watch and oversee the public
space from behind the windows (or when there are no windows at all) the space
gets desolated and unsafe. So it's two way traffic: keeping the windows open
gives the people 'inside' oppurtunity to show they are good citizens. And them
doing so disposes people on the street to behave properly.
As far as i know, the first to write on streetlife like that was Jane Jacobs
Death and Life of Great American Cities. Lots of architects and citybuilders
take insights on the benefits of open windows into account nowadays.