The Green Car was installed at ‘Hoofdtoren’, in the historic city-centre of Hoorn, Netherlands. Built in the 16th century by the Dutch whaling trade group, Noordsche Compagnie (Northern Company), this defense tower is one of the most important architectural monuments in the city. For the project, the street-side of the building acquired a completely new façade, coated with green lacquer paint. The surface and color matched exactly with an Opel Kadett car which was parked right in front of the building. The only break in the new façade was a small doorway, allowing entrance to the restaurant that is located in the tower. Apart from the entrance, the only other details that were kept from the building’s earlier appearance were the restaurant sign, lamps and two large flowerpots.
Many buildings in the historical city of Hoorn are similar to a taxidermied animal: their casing is meticulously preserved while the inside is completely renewed. This association was one of the starting points of the project, with the goal of creating a new monumental skin for the tower. The building façade, together with the matching car, becomes a sort of 'landscape collage'. In contrast to the tower's historic and aesthetically pleasing architecture, the new façade’s effect reminds us of the architecture and landscape of industrial areas: here we often find corporate identities looming large, both buildings and vehicles have the same design and color. These two, usually distinct areas of the city landscape—the historic landmark and the corporate office park—come together in this installation to play with the expectations and parameters that commonly differentiate these spatial allocations. The complex relation between these two very different areas of a city becomes visible. At the same time, the work also hints at the politics of this architectural and spatial nostalgia; the banality of an ordinary green car takes possession and brands a building that is usually reserved to represent the public’s imagination of a shared and revered culture and history.
The Green Car was a temporary project realized during “Upstream” in Amsterdam and Hoorn, The Netherlands, September - October 2002.
photography: Geert Jan van Rooij, Helmut Dick