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The rural idyll

Friday October 16th the Rural Wageningen Foundation (RUW) organized the symposium ‘The Rural Idyll’, where different actors from science, public authorities and the field presented their ‘Rural Idyll’ of the Dutch and European countryside. The countryside is facing rapid changes with at the one side growth of large companies with investments in technical innovations and at the other side an idealistic image of ‘Boer zoekt Vrouw’, regional products and ‘caring farms’ completely integrated in a small-scale landscape.

The symposium included a series of small workshops. One of them, led by Bart Aptroot, focused on the issue of the shrinking population on the Dutch countryside. As a reaction on decreasing population at the countryside the Royal Institute for Dutch Architectures (BNA) developed the Design Lab Decreasing Population (‘Ontwerplab Krimp’) to study opportunities because of decreasing population. To make visible where inhabitants and policy makers can and have to make choices, landscape architects, urban building experts, and planners made designs for some areas in the Netherlands where decreasing population is emerges. In the designs decreasing population is seen as an opportunity for a vital and dynamic countryside.

In the ‘decreasing population’ workshop students elaborated in small groups on how to recognize opportunities in the shrinking communities and which actors to involve in these processes. Student recognized the excess of housing as an opportunity to easily launch new creative or commercial activities. Latent touristic qualities should be activated. The students proposed to introduce an independent broker in opportunities to mediate between different actors who often have shared goals but different interests.

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