Photographer:Fotograaf: Debbie Markusse and Rachita Munshi
MAASTRICHT. Prize: 3,500 euro for creating a meeting place on a wasteland in Pottenberg. This project by master's students Debbie Markusse and Rachita Munshi won a prize in the annual 'Stadsgoud' competition, organised by the Elisabeth Strouven Fonds, last Sunday. The organisation runs a competition every year with various themes: how to make people happier, how to make the neighbourhood a nicer place to live, how to make the area greener, how to fight poverty and loneliness? Eight projects were awarded a Stadsgoud cheque this year.
Markusse and Munshi live in a Match house – a project in which students do voluntary work for the neighbourhood in exchange for cheaper housing – in Pottenberg. By creating a place for playing a game of boules, putting up picnic tables, and setting out a natural playground on the field in front of their house, they hope to bring neighbours together.
The Pottenberg neighbourhood was built in the nineteen-sixties based on a so-called parish philosophy with a church in the centre surrounded by shops, schools and houses. The two students live in the characteristic Poortgebouw, built on pillars that form an underpass: the ‘gateway’ to the neighbourhood. The building has been nominated for demolition. Housing corporation Woonpunt rents out the flats.
Markusse: “I came from Utrecht to Maastricht for a master's and I was looking for voluntary work to quickly get to know people. That is how I came in contact with Match. I saw it as a win-win situation: I would get to know people through the Match community and I could do something meaningful for my neighbours. The past year we helped with the Christmas market and Christmas festivities and together with others living in the Poortgebouw [not students] we painted the stairwell in our building. It didn't have much atmosphere, a little dilapidated. The painting depicts a tree with leaves – the latter being the inhabitants' palm prints.”
Markusse and Munshi will start on the project in the field as quickly as possible.