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A Buried Folly
Maybe we should leave it as it is. Heijplaat is almost perfect. When I took a look around the location, I realised that above ground you can’t get much closer to paradise. The haphazard skyline, the unselfconscious architecture and the melancholy atmosphere are hard to improve upon. Walking around Heijplaat, any wishes I may have had to build a monumental folly evaporated instantly.
However – one never stops dreaming.
I’d like to create, or possibly live out, a legend, an urban legend. We all think we know what the world above ground is about. But we can’t stop dreaming about what’s below our feet. The port tycoons’ hidden treasures, secret government hideouts - untold riches may be there, but we’ll never know. Every now and then stories crop up. But far less often something is actually found. Pipe lines to transport aircraft fuel for NATO, a former German underground laboratory, gold coins from the Middle ages…
There are several ways I could go about it. One would be to turn it into a performance. Think of a likely place where an underground structure could have been, for instance on the Rondoplein. Start by letting official-looking people put up a closed fence around the area. Then start digging. After a few days, let the site be guarded by security people or even the army. Refuse to give any information. Move around some interesting-looking bits of hardware. Let an armoured truck come and go a few times. Maybe even a limousine with tinted windows. Close the excavation and clean up the site. Leave the site without any explanation.
This way, one could construct a virtual folly in the minds of most inhabitants of Heijplaat and, depending on the amount of publicity, in the minds of many more. However, there are a few drawbacks. It would depend largely on the public’s sense of humour whether the project is in any way appreciated. It may be a serious insult to the sense of ‘value for money’ most people have. And there are other complications which have to be considered in the design phase…
The second way to make a buried folly would be to actually construct one. My idea would be to dig a hole in a likely place (for instance along the Heysekade) and see what is there underground. At least there will be cables and pipelines, but maybe other structures can be uncovered. I would make an excavation of 5-10 square metres, and as deep as the groundwater would allow. After cleaning the existing structures, I would use them as a basis for an underground environment. Probably I could use pipes, bars and whatever metal scrap is available on Heyplaat. The finished structure should be painted with reflective paint (possibly gold, bronze and/or silver to strengthen the suggestion of buried treasure) and lighted by several powerful floodlights. After constructing a ‘roof’, using concrete or metal girders, the pavement should be reconstructed as if nothing was there – save for a narrow strip along the kerb or a small window, the size of one or two paving-stones. In these openings thick glass windows should be mounted. The buried folly should only be (partly) visible through these windows. It would be quite possible to use sound as well, but I have to address this and other questions in the design phase.