The Sandberg Institute has developed Vacant NL, a two-year Master’s degree (2011 – 2013), to encourage designers, creatives and scientists to develop fresh, innovative and realistic design strategies for the temporary use of vacant buildings and spaces. The program challenges students to take a hands-on approach to researching and exploring the potential of unused properties in the Netherlands. The team of tutor for this new master consisted of Ronald Rietveld, Eric Rietveld, Frank Havermans, Barbara Visser, Ester van de Wiel and Martine Zoeteman.
Under the guidance of Ester van de Wiel the students of Studio Vacant NL started the project ‘Inside the white whale’ – Temporary spaces for young entrepreneurship. White Whales present an ideal strategy for colonizing vacant buildings with minimal effort and materials. Large container bags, primarily used for transporting raw materials in shipping containers, can be used to create temporary spaces in any location imaginable. These new flexible spaces can serve a wide variety of purposes, superimposing a new world over the existing one.
The White Whales have been tested at various public places, including the Kunstvlaai edition, ‘inexactly thiS’ in a vacant secondary school (amsterdam, 2012), the Object rotterdam fair for contemporary design in Het Nieuwe Instituut (rotterdam, 2013), Salone internazionale del mobile as part of the ‘tuttobene’ exhibition (milan, 2013), ‘Starting Something’ during the Beijing design Week (Beijing, 2013) and the ‘connecting cities’ exhibition (Shenzhen, 2013–2014).