Minze Walvius: 'Now work on the city of the future'

'Why do we design residential areas based on data from the past, and not for the future?' Although Minze Walvius already knows the answer to that question, he likes to shake things up.

Walvius is an entrepreneur, cross-thinker, consultant and project developer in the field of mobility and accessibility, and works for both developers and municipalities. By looking at design and mobility differently, neighborhoods and cities become much greener, more sustainable and, above all, more attractive for new generations, according to Walvius. Walvius, founder of the company Advier, got the hang of it years ago at a conference in Tokyo. Google X and the Toyota Mobility Foundation, among others, invited cross-thinkers from all over the world to brainstorm about 'the city of the future'. In the Netherlands, Walvius also worked on the City of the Future project. Walvius: 'From trend watcher, urban planner and climate specialist to demographic expert: everyone was allowed to contribute ideas and have their say.' The assignment was grotesque yet limited in space: 'Solve all the challenges of the world in one square kilometer'.

The challenge

Walvius learned in Japan what he now sees in the Netherlands: in a multidisciplinary team, specialists do not speak the same language, regardless of their own interests. A developer talks differently from a climate specialist, and a demographer uses different starting points than the mobility expert. In addition, subject matter specialists are often caught in a stifling phrase: 'That's just how we do it'. Walvius: 'When designing residential areas, developers and municipalities often still start with the 'sacred' parking standard. But why actually? Everyone has their own car in front of the door, which means space-consuming and expensive infrastructure. While you could also create greenery or a water feature in that space. And about plans based on data from the past: take a look at a new construction project. There is nowhere a shed where the e-cargo bike just fits. While residents all have such a cargo bike.'

Swapfiets

Letting go of the parking norm is less revolutionary than it seems, says Walvius. 'You create new neighborhoods for the next forty to fifty years, in other words for today's young people, the swap bike users. This generation attaches less value to property and is already used to paying a fixed monthly amount for mobility. If you clearly understand what private car ownership costs, including the parking space, and what the prices are for space and infrastructure construction, few young people will opt for "expensive living with a parking space". Certainly because many young people will soon not have a car (and increasingly no driver's license), but will have a student loan.' 'In Bremen they have been working with mobilpunkte for ten years. The aim is to have such a mobi point every 300 meters in the city, with sufficient and good quality shared transport: public transport, shared car, shared bicycle, e-bike and electric scooters. The new departure point from your neighbourhood. Naturally, efforts are also being made to reduce the number of parking spaces. In Bremen, one shared car replaces sixteen parking spaces! In the Netherlands we started this year with mobi points. And you can also expand them with a parcel service, a kind of social meeting point or a kiosk. But more importantly: if you concentrate all logistical facilities here, space will become available in the district for walkers and cyclists and for greenery and water, in a park-like setting. You create a much more attractive living environment.'

MaaS becomes LaaS

Walvius' dream therefore begins with an 'extreme reallocation assignment' to designers. 'Now we are talking about MaaS, Mobility as a Service, but actually we should already be talking about LaaS, Living as a Service. The new generation is used to sharing, so not just transport, but also your washing machine or your garden. You could create Living Labs to experiment with that.'

Expertise

We are approaching (technical) developments, innovations and complex challenges at lightning speed, but the traditional pillars limit a coherent approach. Integrated working is something you have to learn and for which you have to unlearn traditional working first. Walvius: 'The funny thing is: when I tell my story about the residential area of ​​the future, no one finds it illogical. You don't have to be a behavioral psychologist to see how young people's lives are very different and are much more climate-conscious than my own generation, which was raised with car ownership as the highest goal.'

The above article is from the VNG Magazine. View the original article in PDF format here.