I’m in front of the house trying to think of some way of making this side seem less austere. More welcoming. You see standing here in front of the house I feel under the gaze; both of the history of this place, but also the authority, power and wealth of it. It’s quite polarising. I guess half the people that walk past and see it will think, that place is not for me, I’m not welcome there.
What is it that gives the building such a presence: is it the formality, is it the scale? Is it because of the colonial history of wealth in Amsterdam? Is it because it just doesn’t seem friendly?……….. But it’s not that big; and almost seems to be smiling; the façade is fairly humorous actually. So why is it still that it has that thing…. Is it an economic thing, is about feeling like you don’t belong, about exclusion. A symbol of elitism, perhaps….. But if you enter the house from the other side its a very different story. You come though the bushes and are welcomed into the arms garden. Of course from the back the formality is still clear, its just as much a status symbol but there’s something more homely about it. Why is that? Why is being welcoming a good thing, perhaps its not. Somehow I think it is.
I could try and do something to make it more… what’s the word…. earthly. You could have a big dung heap, a big pile of steaming horse shit, but it’s not the 17th century. You could have a stack of bicycles. A bicycle parking; that way you’d see that there were lots of people around and perhaps feel more inquisitive. You could….. I guess it’s partly because it’s in the shadow. So you could have a reflector on the roof that undoes that. You could plant. What would it look like if it were overgrown? The Frankendael as a ruin… I’m just romanticising it now.
The mote. The mote makes it private. The gate….. You could have a big sign that says welcome. You could have something hanging from the attic hook. You could use voice, you could have a town crier, crying all ‘welcome’. The sculptures are all looking out at you. Maybe there needs to be something that looks back at the house. Shining a mirror back towards it. Maybe I should turn around these sculptures and let them look back. Could their historic gaze tame the austerity? Trapping it in a kaleidoscope of awareness.