Embracing the future today

Partnering to make the
European Capital of Culture a reality

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In 2018 the city of Leeuwarden and the province of Fryslân in the northwest of The Netherlands will become the European Capital of Culture. We spoke to The Mayor of Leeuwarden, Ferd Crone together with Creative Producer of Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018, Claudia Woolgar and the Project Manager from Royal HaskoningDHV Daan Smit, about the partnership and plans to make Leeuwarden shine as she takes her place on the global stage.
What do you want the world to know and learn from Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018?

Ferd Crone: I’d like to borrow a quote from the former Dutch Minister of Infrastructure Melanie Schultz who said, “Over the years, we have also learned that you can’t just keep nature in a straitjacket. In recent years, we have started building with nature. Water is like a neighbour who sometimes needs just a little bit more room.” [1] The Dutch are well-known experts in flood protection, land reclamation and managing water. We saw possibilities in a problem, innovated and it’s now one of the Dutch leading export services.

Ferd Crone, Mayor of Leeuwarden: “This project will leave a legacy in the form of new structures and installations, but we hope it will also lay the foundations of our future; a better and more sustainable future for generations to come.”

Fryslân is a great example of how people can work with nature and harness technology to create a sustainable economy and society. Our province is known for its waterways and there are many things happening in this region in terms of scientific research and new (water)technology.

We want to use Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018 as a springboard to tap into new technologies and ideas in this area. This is our chance to put ourselves on the world stage and attract people. You can already see that the people of Fryslân are more confident; they are proud of their home and they are embracing this project and all the wonderful events involved in it.

How will Royal HaskoningDHV’s expertise make Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018 a success?

Claudia Woolgar: Partnering with Royal HaskoningDHV has been so important in seeing that the various aspects of Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018 are brought to life. One of the key projects for Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018 is 11Fountains. This project is a unique collaboration which will see 11 fountains, designed by world-class artists, installed in 11 locations across Fryslân.  In this project, Royal HaskoningDHV demonstrated their strong stakeholder management capability and technical expertise. Their integrated approach and foresight in using smart and sustainable solutions will help to create a lasting legacy for this region.

Our broader programme in 2018 consists of over 60 main events and hundreds of community events. Together these seek, through the medium of culture, to solve our challenges and at the same time, instill a sense of identity and pride which helps to enhance our communities here in Fryslân and beyond.

How can innovations secure a more sustainable future for Fryslân?

Daan Smit: From the monumental Afsluitdijk causeway to the aqueducts and solar fields around Leeuwarden, we have demonstrated our track record in the collaborative partnership with clients, partners and communities.

Our integrated approach and focus on innovation means that we are continuously pushing the boundaries to create new frontiers in areas such as energy transition and smart mobility. This relentless drive in innovation is coupled with the use of new digital tools such as the iReport, automated engineering amongst others which can help create new value as we accelerate towards a more sustainable future for Leeuwarden-Fryslân.

This is a truly exciting opportunity and we are really pleased to be involved in the programme. Next to 11Fountains we also play an important role in the projects: Sense of Place and WaterConnecting. We combine our project management and engineering skills with the creativity and artistic design of the cultural sector. Together, we can make a difference to the region.

Why are the partnerships you have formed so important for the longevity of Leeuwarden-Fryslân?

Ferd Crone: Almost every project within Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018 has required partnership, from artists and individuals to councils and local communities. But this is the Fryslân ethos and our way of living – to work together to overcome barriers and obstacles, be they big or small! This project will leave a legacy in the form of new structures and installations, but we hope it will also lay the foundations of our future; a better and more sustainable future for generations to come.

[1] Dutch Minister Schultz van Haegen shares her vision about flood protection and the importance of co-creation and innovation, Boskalis Magazine Issue Nº3 / November 2015.


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