Residents and MVRDV Develop a Vision for a Village Battered by Gas Extraction

Residents and MVRDV Develop a Vision for a Village Battered by Gas Extraction

MVRDV and residents of the village of Overschild in the North of the Netherlands have developed a plan to strengthen the village, which has been damaged by gas extraction. The vision has already been called “a shining example in a battered province” by the local media.

How does Overschild overcome the years of damage caused by gas extraction? The village, which consists of about 230 houses, is located in the middle of the Groninger gas field and has suffered from a number of earthquakes which have caused damage to homes. Some of the houses can be renovated and reinforced, but for at least half of the village will need another approach: demolition and reconstruction. In the future, the village is unlikely to escape these earthquakes, which makes earthquake-resistant building extra urgent.

In the vision—called “Dorpsvisie Versterking Overschild”—MVRDV presents various scenarios how Overschild can develop from its current situation. The key aspects addressed by this vision include issues such as strengthening housing, safe living, collective thinking, scenic views, nature around the Schildmeer, and sustainability.

The vision for Overschild has been realized through intensive resident participation. The residents had claimed their own role in strengthening the village. Urban planner Enno Zuidema guided the process with the residents and prepared meetings with the residents' organization and the municipality.

Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV says: “Because MVRDV has experience with the design of Oosterwold in Almere, where residents themselves design their homes and neighborhoods and arrange their own facilities, we were approached to guide this project. In Overschild we held several sessions in which we discussed methods of strengthening structures. In surveys, residents were asked what their wishes were and how they felt the village should look like in ten years. In fact, we have given the residents a toolbox which will give them the help and inspiration needed to take the future into their own hands. We hope for a wonderful, unexpected and inquisitive combination. Their renewed freedom can result in an unprecedented, exemplary and proud village!”

The vision not only offers the opportunity to strengthen the village through a series of technical interventions and by introducing safe construction techniques such as wooden frame construction and building with straw, but also to improve the spatial quality of the village. The municipality of Midden-Groningen has translated the vision into a “Structural Vision Oversight 2018-2028”. This will form the basis for the municipal policy for the coming years.

The Mayor and Aldermen of Overschild adopted the structural vision on 15th October. The city council will discuss the structural vision on 15th November in the council committee. On 29th November, the city council will vote on whether to accept the vision. Both meetings are public.