Tracy in Nederland

The multimedia project is an initiative of Tracy Metz, on the occasion of her being awarded the Maaskant Prize of 2016. This is a prize for persons who have made an important contribution to the debate on architecture, landscape and urbanism.
The website contains three multimedia tours – on water, housing and leisure –, a ‘shop window’ (‘etalage’) with an anthology of her work and an essay entitled ‘The Dark Side of Urban Success’ in which she reflects on past and future developments in successful cities. She describes how major forces such as mass tourism, foreign investments and a severe shortage of housing put pressure on the city, but at the same time are the result of its success. The question she poses is: How can we manage that success in such a way that it doesn’t simply overwhelm us, but improves the city?

Read ‘The Dark Side of Urban Success’ (PDF, 1.8 Mb)

Read the Maaskant Prize jury report (PDF, 25kB)

Tracy in NL was created by:

Production – Submarine (Bruno Felix, Corine Meijers, Aart Jan van der Linden, Christiaan de Rooij)
Multimediatours – De Kostgangers (Geert van de Wetering, Daniëlle Emans)
Drawings – Jan Rothuizen
Animations – Franka Wiggers
Grafisch design essay – Hamid Sallali
Project coordination – Sanne van der Beek and Baptist Brayé


The way the Dutch deal with water is fascinating for the rest of the world – and for me too, as a foreigner who has lived here for over thirty years.

Watch and listen to my multimedia tour ‘Water’ in which I discuss the role that water plays in the Netherlands with Special Water Envoy Henk Ovink, farmer Nol Hooijmaijers and Florian Boer of De Urbanisten, designer of the water plazas in Rotterdam.

In 2012 I published the book ‘Sweet&Salt: Water and the Dutch’ together with art historian Maartje van den Heuvel. In that book I show how the Dutch are redesigning their cities and landscape in order to face the challenges of climate change. In the chapter ‘Wet city’ you can read how cities become both safer and more liveable by making more space for water. You can find the book here:


Housing in the city is sometimes more about a lucrative investment than about a pleasant home. Who are the movers and shakers now in the overheated housing market of successful cities like Amsterdam. What does a house mean to the Dutch?

Watch and listen to my multimedia tour ‘Housing’, in which I delve into the way in which housing is a reflection of the ideology of the day, in conversation with urban sociologist Arnold Reijndorp, architect and believer in the modernist experiment of the Bijlmermeer Pi de Bruijn and Vinex-resident and photographer Theo Baart.

Ads for expensive apartments in London only mention return on investment, they never talk about a ‘home’. London is a successful city – but for whom?, asks David Madden, sociologist on at the London School of Economics. He was my guest at the first edition of HEYU Urbans, a six-part talkshow I held for the Amsterdam Public Library during the six months of the Netherlands’ chairmanshop of the European Union. Here you can watch an interesting part of the talkshow:


Our free time has not only become a huge industry, but has also transformed many aspects of our surroundings into environments that resemble theme parks. But if others, such as tourists, want to play in our theme park too, we’re not too enthusiastic about that.

Watch and listen to my multimedia tour ‘Leisure’ in which I look at the way all the things we do in our free time influence our surroundings. My guests are Hans Mommaas, director of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment agency, farmer Elmar Hoogendoorn, and Stephen Hodes, founder of consulting firm LAGroup.