Jacqueline Vermaat works for dS+V, the housing and planning department of the city of Rotterdam. She is head of the housing section. Jacqueline is also a notorious traveler to countries and cities all over the world. So she knows her culture and cities. Here are here thoughts on the subject.

1 –     Which city do you see as the nicest/best city that you know? What are its most important aspects that make it so good?

New York, no doubt about it. Because of its size and its diversity. There are many cities in one, but they are all part of the main city. The size is so enormous, that as a single human being you are nearly nothing, but all the human beings together succeed to run the city very well.

2 –     What are the most important aspects to dislike in a city? Is there a city or place that you dislike for any particular reason.

I dislike a city when it’s grey and stony, and especially when there is nothing to do: no sights, no museums of importance, no attractive restaurants, no bars to go in or no shops.
Difficult to mention where I found it. Camaguey on Cuba maybe.

3 –     Can a city or city life make you happy? In what sense?

Sure. I like to watch people and to have people around me (but not too crowded that you can’t walk of course).

4 –     What metaphor, quote, painting, or film scene best describes your idea about the relation between cities and culture?

An ant-hill. For instance New York. Many many people together make the city. They need each other to make what it is.

5 –     What is the importance of living or working in a city relating to your own profession / lifestyle?

I work on the city, to make it more attractive to live in. For me living in the city, cycling around and visiting the restaurants, bars and festivals in the city is important to understand which places, buildings and atmosphere feel good.

6 –     What is the most important change or challenge that cities will face in the coming decades?

Cities will have to keep building and rebuilding. That has been so for years and will go on. The most important challenge is the human society. In cities many different people live together. They all want to grow and to go better. City live gives many opportunities, but not everybody is able to take them, and there is a risk that those people turn into opposition. The challenge is how to create chances and to stimulate all the citizens to take them.

7 –     What is the best thing you remember that happened in the last 12 months to a city?

Difficult to say. Mostly it’s important for a city to organize a big event. An example are the Olympic Games for London, but soon after this decision became known, there were the assault on the London underground. A good thing, and a bad thing soon after. For Rotterdam there was no particular good thing. A few positive developments: more economic progress than in the years before and some new big events (‘Monaco aan de Maas’, Red Bull Airrace, Volvo Ocean race etc.).

8 –     What idea, thinker or movement, if any, do you think will be very influential in shaping cities and the way people live together in the future?

Because of ICT-facilities it is no longer important where you live to do your job. So in the future people want to be in the city for other reasons: the people, the cultural events, the atmosphere and so on. So I think the most influential developments will be on social themes. The creation of cities will follow those.