In 1962, the national government chose to expand the neighboring village of Zoetermeer to address the housing shortage of the Hague. The newly-appointed city planners quickly began designing a modern New Town. It was the first time in Netherlands that a city for 100,000 residents was put on paper. Zoetermeer was an experiment in which modern and progressive ideas about urban planning were processed.
Zoetermeer’s designers were famous urban planners and architects who already had experience with large-scale urban projects, such as the redevelopment of Rotterdam. They were aware of trends in architecture and looked closely at developments throughout the rest of Europe. They wanted a modern city built according to new ideas about mass housing, public transportation and community formation. But above all, they wanted a better, safer, more modern city than all existing cities. A Zoetmeer Utopia.
Zoetermeer has now reached a population of 100,000. Last year the city celebrated its 50th anniversary. How can we make the dreams and modern ideas of the city planners of that time visible in the present city? With this question in mind, Stadsmuseum Zoetermeer (the city museum) and the International New Town Institute commissioned six well-known cartoonists and illustrators to draw the dreams of the designers of the New Town. Each artist gives a unique perspective on the ideals and dreams of this optimistic era.