the term reappropriation is an extension of the term appropriation or cultural appropriation used in anthropology, sociology and cultural studies to describe the reabsorbing of subcultural styles and forms, or those from other cultures, into mass culture through a process of commodification: the mass-marketing of alternate lifestyles, practices, and artifacts’

the footsteps become louder, i stop; there’s nothing but an echo of the rain.

walking along the main road towards the central station, dodging tourists and pickpockets, you’ll find a passage to the left, well more of an arcade really; difficult to miss. something like a million mosaic tiles, square meters of terrazzo, ceramic tiles and more were conducted by the artistic collaboration of hans van bentem, arno coenen en iris roskam in an attempt to revive an expired institution. historical and contemporary elements incorporated into the work range from the obvious to the obscure; from drowned bikes to van gogh’s ear, from tubes to sailor’s tattoos. the name of the architectural artwork; ‘oersoep’ refers to a primordial watery origin and is a tongue-in-cheek look from the bottom of amsterdam’s canals at its contents; although this kind of predictable cleverness is a bit of a dutch theme, it nonetheless resulted in a well executed and welcome improvement to the public environment and points to the fact that affirmation of heritage and identity, as in the case of the passage, certainly builds a stronger sense of belonging.

reappropriation seems like an ideal antidote to so-called stigmatisation or it’s evil sister, stereotyping. it incorporates an acceptance of our differences rather than a conformation of our similarities, which i believe to be one of the key sources of the current plague of mistaken identity. even from an urban design perspective it is known that a loss of diversity in architecture and the subsequent failure of ownership by communities only result in social dead zones which become virtually uninhabitable; this ‘esperanto achitecture’, to borrow a term from cocteau, has so firmly strived for inoffensive and effective living that it has demoted us to prisons with the only difference being a choice of wall covering and a view.

when it comes down to it; one-size-fits-all, simply doesn’t.