The world of the commuter
Commuting is a choice, this is evident from the fact that as the disposable income rises the distance between the home and work grows. Each day more than five million people in the Netherlands commute by car, train, bus, metro, tram or bike to and from their place of work. The movement behaviour of these commuters determines to a great extent the appearance of the Netherlands. The experience of these people is that new stations are built, roads constructed, housing built in green areas and workplaces created.
In the contemporary discussion about mobility, emphasis is placed on the traffic. In this exhibition the emphasis shifts to the mobility space and the people within this space. Routine examines the phenomenon of commuting. Where does the idea of separating living and working come from? What constructions have been developed for the commuter over the course of time? How is the world of the commuter designed? What developments have taken place, from the end of the nineteenth century to today? And what ideas are there for the future?
For the Routine exhibition, with the aid of statistics, we have carried out a study into the places where the commuters spend their time. The Netherlands has 443 municipalities all with a rural or urban centre, diverse suburbs and business parks and industrial estates. Commuting arises when people travel to and from these different residential and work municipalities. The study has shown that the daily migration does not by definition take place from the suburbs and rural areas to town centres or business parks and estates on the edge of the town or visa versa. A large part of the travelling takes place within one and the same living and residential environment. People live and work in a suburb or people live and work in a district, but to do so people have to travel daily, mostly by car - an average of 44 kilometres - or by train - an average of 72 kilometres. The Netherlands is so designed that we have to travel to work, but this travelling does not lead to an essentially different environment. People do work outside the home, but commuters travel in a circle, the starting point and the finishing point are, from a spatial perspective, the same built environment only in another municipality.
Part of the exhibition is the study into the appearance and the habits of a commuter before, during and after the journey. We have endeavoured to present a literal portrayal of the average car and train commuter in the Netherlands. Most car commuters drive on their own from home to work in a space averaging 4.7m3, a train commuter travels with many fellow passengers in just 2.1m3 of personal space. Many attributes that commuters carry or take with them are a means of creating an extension of the working environment or the home in a mobile space, whereby the boundaries between public and private become blurred. Train computers see the public transport as an extension of their workplace, they consult papers for a meeting or revise documents on the laptop. For the car commuter the reverse is the case. They are happy alone in their car and try to prolong the home atmosphere as long as possible, and when they step into their car after work it immediately feels like home.
in cooperation with
Martine Bakker (Dorr), Hans Ibelings, Timo de Rijk, Urban Affairs
Research on commuting in the Netherlands & design exhibition