UTRECHT (NL) - Standing tall at 25 metres, the mandate from Monadnock is no small matter.
Centrally located above the 25th annual Festival a/d Werf in Utrecht (taking place from 20–29 May 2010) stands a gigantic scaffolding construction with a message meant to get visitors thinking: 'Make no little plans'. The text is a fragment of a more extensive pronouncement attributed to Daniel Burnham (1846-1912), an American architect and urban planner famous for publishing, along with co-author Edward H. Bennett, 'The Plan of Chicago' in 1909. It was the first comprehensive plan for the controlled growth of an American city, setting the standard for urban design for generations of architects and planners to come. It also happens to relate a cornerstone of Rotterdam-based architectural office Monadnock's credo: the components and features of a city must be permitted to develop – and change – at their own varying paces over extended periods of time.
With an industrial-age, retro-billboard feel, the construction is certainly meant to be seen – and no doubt the message heeded. In a city such as Rotterdam, known nowadays not only as the largest port in Europe, but also as a hotspot of urban renewal, the sentiments behind such a simple phrase are especially appropriate. The sheer scale of the magnified text (itself a sort of temporary monadnock) moves its significance beyond the festival grounds in Utrecht and into the larger urban surroundings – and likely dispersing even further, throughout the Randstad conurbation. Its imposing size renders the sign more than a bit surprising, reflecting the necessity that urban strategies be formulated in order to anticipate and control unexpected growth. As such, it becomes a physical manifestation of the demand for responsible and forward thinking urban planning in the Netherlands. Thus it goes without saying that this particular message is intended to resonate here long after its brief existence.