Reflection on Albany exchange Neerbosch | a x n 2022 expert meeting

Reflection on Albany exchange Neerbosch | a x n 2022 expert meeting

Buildings & Structures
United States
Exploring development potentials of the Van Ostrande-Radliff House in Albany (New York) and Kinderdorp Neerbosch (Nijmegen).
By Yulia Dolinina, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands

On 30 June, the second expert meeting within the Albany exchange Neerbosch-project took place. Experts from the USA and the Netherlands shared the insights they gained during this second round of workshops about the development potentials of two comparable heritage sites: Van Ostrande-Radliff House (also called 48 Hudson) in Albany, New York and Kinderdorp Neerbosch in Nijmegen. In June, the participants specifically discussed possibilities of adaptive re-use of both sites.

Van 't Lindenhout Museum, Neerbosch-Nijmegen. Photo: Van 't Lindenhout Museum
Van 't Lindenhout Museum, Neerbosch-Nijmegen.
Van 't Lindenhout Museum

Albany exchange Neerbosch

In February 2022, the Historic Albany Foundation (HAF), Van ’t Lindenhout Museum Neerbosch-Nijmegen, and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) jointly initiated this international online expert exchange. The three-part exchange, aimed at professionals in built environment, explores the development potentials of the Van Ostrande-Radliff House in Albany, New York and Kinderdorp Neerbosch in Nijmegen. Each part of this exchange examines the cases from different angles: area development, adaptive reuse and restoration practices. This project is part of the programme International Heritage Cooperation of the RCE.

Shared challenges 

Taking two areas situated in different conditions, the programme discusses similarities of challenges they face and ways to address them.

The Van Ostrande-Radliff house, built in the Dutch period of Albany in 1728, is one of three known examples of a Dutch urban timber frame house preserved in the USA, situated just outside of the historic heart of the city. The HAF, which manages the building since its acquisition in June 2013, is taking up the challenge of the building’s historic restoration. It is the HAF’s intention to seek in this process approaches for safeguarding the site’s Dutch-American past, which encouraged them to initiate the binational knowledge exchange.

On the other side of the Atlantic lies the historic site of Neerbosch near Nijmegen, a former youth care village that has been a home for 20.000, predominantly protestant, orphans since 1862. Bucolic historical landscape with architectural and design heritage of the secluded community faces the challenge of redevelopment that can change its cultural identity and values. The Van’t Lindenhout Museum was founded in 1962 and since 1999 inhabits the orphanage chapel (1882) on the site. The museum is currently looking for sustainable ways to redevelop the historic site it manages while preserving its heritage.

Van Ostrande-Radliff House or Hudson 48. Photo: Historic Albany Foundation
Van Ostrande-Radliff House or Hudson 48.
Historic Albany Foundation

First Insights Exchange

In the first two parts of the international exchange, led by Mathijs Witte (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands) and Cara Macri (HAF), American and Dutch experts in built environment – restoration architects, spatial planners, heritage professionals, and advisors – have discussed holistic approaches in heritage management as ways of sustainable urban (re)development.

Participants formed two international teams to analyse each of the two case studies separately. Each team consisted of active participants who were leading the discussion on their nation’s heritage and reflective international colleagues supporting their analyses. In February, the Albany expert group examined some resonating strategies for management of the comparable case in Nijmegen and marked the benefits of reconnecting the Hudson River to Albany Downtown. The Neerbosch expert team, for their part, pondered the advice of the American colleagues to emphasise the social and aesthetic values of the site as its strengths for future development and provide more engagement with the city of Nijmegen and its inhabitants.

During the second exchange in June, the experts focused on adaptive reuse. For the reuse of the ten-sided pavilions at Neerbosch, the experts see successful opportunities when partnering with the Park Neerbosch school for children with special needs. With a temporary use of the site, participants reflected, one will find new ways of using the buildings. As elsewhere, in Nijmegen there is a big demand for protected housing for young people as well. Neerbosch could offer great accommodation.

The discussion about 48 Hudson in Albany focused on the way in which the Van Ostrande-Radliff House can be an inspiration for the new area development. It is important to decide which heritage stories they want to tell and how they can connect their site with other areas.

For both sites, it is clear that you have to start and attract people to the location and start organizing activities. The concept of guerrilla tactics was mentioned by the participants to attract people to the sites.

The first exchange programme was closed with a note on the 300 years of shared history between Albany and Nijmegen and the long-existing friendship between the cities. Participating experts stressed the benefits of the exchange that has been strengthening the USA-Dutch network in the context of heritage management, and in the context of the Friendship Albany Nijmegen.

Follow up

In September 2022, the exchange Albany exchange Neerbosch | a x n 2022 will continue with one more workshop. In this last exchange, the American and Dutch experts will discuss issues of restoration practices. Proceedings of the programme will be broadcasted to the public.

For the exchange closing event in February 2022 see this video. The exchange of 30 June can be rewatched here. To keep up to date with information about the programme, check the website of the Cultural Heritage Agency.

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