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Pre-capstone Book: Amsterdam Zuidoost Stephanie Erwin

contents project project statement new planning paradigm dutch context role of the designer site zuidoost [bijlmer] history amsterdam zuidoost today appendix citations

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“The primary aim of planning is not to specify an ideal state, but to open up new possibilities for participants� -Cedric Price


project statement I am interested in the shifting roles of the designer and citizen in the Netherlands due to change in spatial planning policies and recent economic and social realties. Throughout the course of my capstone, I will investigate bottom-up initiatives in Amsterdam Zuidoost through a theoretical framework. To understand the structure, activities, and demands of these initiatives I will study precedents, review literature and conduct interviews with stakeholders. Through this research, I will outline the policies and procedures behind realizing a bottom-up project and to define the relationship between the, so-called, top and bottom and use my findings to frame a culturally appropriate design project in Amsterdam Zuidoost in the form of urban public space. How can bottom-up interventions can improve user enjoyment, encourage citizen engagement, promote physical health, and create community cohesion? How can designers act as advocates and experts in this new planning environment? What are the impacts of new forms of public space in a neighborhood?



new planning paradigm There is a shift in the way in which we develop our cities. Over the past twenty years, the expert driven, capital investment urban development paradigm has slowly been taken over by gritty, grassroots urbanists who are rapidly gaining legitimacy. This shift is attributed to increased access to information and technology, collapse of the global economy, and a loss of trust in governments to ‘do the right thing.’ Bottom-up urbanism is a movement in which citizens engage the urban built environment to improve their quality of life by providing services and creating places the government (top-down) would normally provide. These interventions act as a catalyst for urban regeneration in terms of social, cultural, environmental and economic community assets.

Left: Hannekes Boom in Amsterdam is a result of a partnership between the City, residents, and designers that resulted in a successful reuse of under utilized infrastructure into a community asset.


new planning paradigm cont. Citizen-initiated urban interventions are a self-perpetuating force that empowers community members to engage their built environment by non-traditional means. The creation of public space at this level means more social and cultural relevancy for the users. This is increasingly important in today’s globalized society where cities have large numbers of non-native residents. The relevancy of spaces created through bottom-up urbanism encourages previously disenfranchised populations to become attached and invested in their neighborhoods - creating safer, more appealing communities. The newly created places act as catalysts for urban regeneration. Some other terms associated with bottom-up urbanism are: popup, temporary use, handmade urbanism, grassroots, creative class, informal development, self-initiated, participatory design, emergence and self-organizing systems.


Amsterdam Noord’s NDSM Werf is another successful example of a partnership between City experts, local entrepreneurs and artists that resulted in one of the most popular public spaces.


dutch context The Netherlands is one of the most planned countries in the world, and rightly so. As the ninth most densely populated country with nearly one third of it is land below sea level, comprehensive spatial planning is a necessity. Historically, spatial planning was mostly decided at the national level with decision-making ability trickling down to regional and municipal levels. To date, there have been five national spatial policy memorandums that have governed and guided development. The first four memorandums focused on a topdown approach to physical conditions, spatial planning, housing, and economic growth, with a heavy focus on the Randstad.


The Randstad is a conurbation made up of the four largest cities in the Netherlands: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and the Hague.


In 2001, the Fifth Memorandum on Spatial Planning, VROM 2001a, was published but was not finalized until 2006 with the release of the National Spatial Strategy (Nota Ruimte), VROM 2006, The updated memorandum, subtitled: Ruite Maken, Ruimte Delen, meaning Making Space, Sharing Space, relinquished the traditional national power and gave the power to the municipalities and the people. The move from prescribed spatial planning at the national level to municipal based planning was partly due to the previous memorandum’s failure to make the Randstad a real, economically sound metropolis (Wagner, 515). The new polies are based in the assumption that planning proposals should be left to the municipalities (Wagner, 516). Cities were called to bolster the Netherlands position in the global economy by embarking upon their own major development and re-construction campaigns (Wagner, 516) National regulations were reduced and municipalities were given planning discretion. Additionally, after the global economic crisis in 2008, three significant societal shifts occurred: governments were no longer able to provide the same level of [social + infrastructural] service due to austerity measures, citizens no longer trusted their governments to ‘do the right thing,’ and private investment from the private sector halted. A need for citizen-based development emerged. 08

Participatory design charettes can be used to engage the community in creating meaningful public space.


role of the designer In the book Urban Catalyst, the authors argue that planners, designers, administrators and initiators should define themselves first and foremost as urbanists, or someone who is an advocate for the character or urban life. The authors go on to say that urbanists “become the spiders in a web of stakeholder interests – filling a gap as coordinators, managers, and visionaries, even becoming developers themselves.� (Oswalt 2013) Generally, I agree with this sentiment, the role of the designer is changing, however, I am not sure to what extent. It seems as if there will never be a prescriptive, definitive role for the designer; that cities will continue to be dynamic in their development patterns. I will use my capstone to flush out these nuances associated with bottom-up urbanism.


zuidoost [+bijlmer] history Amsterdam, with a history of housing shortages, started developing satellite city districts to accommodate the growing population after WWII. Amsterdam annexed the Bijlmerpolder in 1966 and development of Bijlmer began shortly after. Planners and architects, working with the City of Amsterdam, designed with an amount of freedom many can only dream of today (Failed Architecture, 2013). Bijlmer, a Le Corbusier style development, was supposed to be the city of tomorrow with separated vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle routes. The new area, in what is now the district Amsterdam Zuidoost, was marketed and designed for upper-middleclass families who were looking to experience modern living without the hustle and bustle of the city. Though, because of the nature of development in this era, there was not direct citizen engagement or participation in the design process. It was only until after several of the buildings were erected that the City sought out feedback from the potential residents. The feedback was positive which supported the continued construction of the rest of the Bijlmer development.



Amsterdam Zuidoost



However, after completion, Bijlmer was seen as an inconvenient and uncomfortable place to live because its lack of connectivity to the centrum and mega-structure apartment buildings. Occupancy within the first ten years was slow growing so the city converted the vacant buildings into more affordable social housing.


Zuidoost Geographically, Zuidoost is disconnected from Amsterdam proper by two other cities: Duivendrecht and Diemen. Three metro subway lines service the area with connections to Amsterdam Centraal.


zuidoost [+bijlmer] history At the very same time, Suriname won its independence and nearly one-third of the population immigrated to the Netherlands. Additionally, people from West Africa also immigrated to the area. With the low cost of housing and proximity to Amsterdam, many immigrants chose to move to Bijlmer. Fourteen housing agencies owned the buildings and were responsible for maintaining the new development. However, just like Pruitt Igoe in St. Louis, the buildings fell into disrepair. The low-income immigrants were disconnected from the City and living in run-down buildings. The covered walkways connecting the buildings to the commercial area became a breeding ground for rape, prostitution and drug abuse. In 1992, a plane crashed into one of the honeycomb-shaped structures bringing national and global attention to the horrible living conditions of the area. The tragedy prompted re-investment into the area bringing improvements like an extension of the metro system and the Bijlmer Sports Arena.


Aftermath of the 1992 plane crash into one of the highrise apartments.



separated circulation

extremly long covered walkways

buildings in disrepair

huge infrasturcture

disregard for shared space



zuidoost [today] Amsterdam Zuidoost (Southeast) is a district of Amsterdam that was established in 1987. It is made up of five boroughs: Amstel III, Bijlmer, Nellestein, Holendrecht, and Gein. Zuidoost’s total area is 22 sq km. The areas I am most interest in are Amstel III and Bijlmer. The Amstel III borough is primarily offices. It is also home to the Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena, the AMC hospital, and the Hogendijk golf course. Bijlmer is primarily residential with shopping mall, and parks called Bijlmerpark and Bijlmerweide. It contains the neighborhoods of Amsterdamse Poort, Bijlmer-Centrum, D-Buurt, F-Buurt, H,-Buurt E-Buurt, G-Buurt, and K-Buurt. Over half of the honeycomb buildings in Bijlmer have been torn down and replaced with lowrise, high-density apartments. Crime rates are in steady decline and quality of life has improved significantly, but there still is a stigma associated with living in there.

Previous buildings

Current buildings



Nellestein Amstel III




zuidoost [today] cont.



retail embedded



low rise living


zuidoost [today] cont.



Amsterdam Zuidoost has a population of 83,743 and a population density of 4,021/km. The population of Zuidoost is comprised of 32.1% Surinamese, 26.7% Dutch, 23.6% non-western, 9.1% western, 5.5% Antillean, 1.9% Moroccan, 1% Turkish (CBS Statistics Netherlands). However, it is believed that there are over 100 different ethnicities that live within the district.

Mural celebrating the multiculturalism in Bijlmer.


zuidoost [today] cont. In 2011, Amsterdam’s City Council passed a bill that allows fallow lands to be used temporarily. The City actually owns 80% of the parcels in the municipality. The new legislation addresses the issue of vacancy while stimulating the local culture and economy without decreasing the property value or disrupting long-term plans. This change in policy has sparked great public interest and fostered a partnership between topdown planners and bottom-up initiators.

Interactive map that allows initiators to view where derelect, City-owned property is available for temporary use.



appendix [resources] Archis/Volume. (n.d.). Archis. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from Archis/Volume. (n.d.). Archis. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from Blogging The City — A Chat With Luc Harings (Ilovenoord) — The Pop-Up City. (n.d.). The Pop-Up City. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from Booth, W. C., Colomb, G. G., & Williams, J. M. (2008). The craft of research (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Braakliggende terreinen - Gemeente Amsterdam. (n.d.). Home - Gemeente Amsterdam. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from Corfee-Morlot, J. et al. (2009), “Cities, Climate Change and Multilevel Governance”, OECD Environment Working Papers, No. 14, OECD Publishing. Deming, M. E., & Swaffield, S. R. (2011). Landscape architecture research inquiry, strategy, design. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons. Franke, S., & Verhagen, E. (2005). Creativity and the city: how the creative economy changes the city. Rotterdam: NAi Pub.


GFZK Leipzig Website / Blog Archive / Hands-on Urbanism 1850-2012. The Right to Green . (n.d.). GFZK Leipzig Website . Retrieved September 20, 2013, from Gandy, M. (2011). Urban constellations. Berlin: Jovis. Groat, L., & Wang, D. (2013). Architectural research methods (2nd ed.). Hoboken: J. Wiley. Hajer, M. A., & Grijzen, J. (2010). Sterke verhalen: hoe Nederland de planologie opnieuw uitvindt = Strong stories : how the Dutch are reinventing spatial planning. Rotterdam: 010. Hands-On Urbanism 1850 - 2012 - YouTube. (n.d.). YouTube. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from watch?v=ltYeKNMhagE. Heurkens, E. (2012). Private Sector-led Urban Development Projects. Management, Partnerships and Effects in the Netherlands and the UK. A+BE | Architecture And The Built Environment, 2(4), 1-480. doi:10.7480/abe. Hirsch, A. B. (2012). Facilitation and/or Manipulation? Lawrence Halprin and ‘Taking Part’. Landscape Journal, 2012(31), 117-134. Houterman, R., & Sanders, G. (2009). BOTTOM-UP INITIATIVES AND THE LOCAL SPATIAL AGENDA: UNDERSTANDING LOCAL INTERESTS IN THE FUNCTIONING OF PUBLIC SPACE. The New Urban Question - Urbanism Beyond Neo-Liberalism, The 4th International Conference of the International Forum on Urbanism (IFoU), 1165-1172. Koekebakker, O. (2003). Westergasfabriek Culture Park: transformation of a former industrial site in Amsterdam. Rotterdam: NAi Publishers.


appendix [resources] Ludwig, F., & Swart, R. (2010). Tools for climate change adaptation in water management inventory and assessment of methods and tools. Wageningen [etc.: Knowledge for Climate Programme Office. Manifesto | The Spontaneous City International. (n.d.). The Spontaneous City International. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from Miazzo, F., & Dolghin, D. (2012, November). Editorial. CITIES the Magazine, Issue 2 Emerging Centers, 2. Mukhija, V. (2003). Squatters as developers?: slum redevelopment in Mumbai. Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate. Oswalt, P., & Overmeyer, K. (2013). Urban catalyst: the power of temporary use. Berlin: Dom Pub. Overmeyer, K. (2007). Urban pioneers: Temporary use and urban development in Berlin = Berlin: Stadtentwicklung durch Zwischennutzung.. Berlin: Jovis. PICNIC://PICNIC ‘12 Theme. (n.d.). PICNIC://. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from Pal, A. (2008). Planning from the bottom up democratic decentralisation in action. Amsterdam: IOS Press. Pellenbarg, P., & van Steen, P. J. (2001). Making space, sharing space: the new memorandum on spatial planning in the Netherlands. Tijdschrift vor Economische en Sociale Geografie , 92(4), 503-511. Qu, L., & Hasselaar, E. (2011). Making room for people choice, voice and liveability in residential places. Amsterdam: Techne Press.


Rottenberg, F., & Provoost, M. (2007). WiMBY! Hoogvliet: future, past and present of a new town.. Rotterdam: NAi Uitgevers. Sharing Best Practicestowards Rio+20: TheNetherlands. Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, N/A. Retrieved September 18, 2013, from Tijdelijk Anders Bestemmen - Home. (n.d.). Tijdelijk Anders Bestemmen - Home. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from http:// Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: design and methods (4th ed.). Los Angeles, Calif.: Sage Publications. Polis: Coin Street Community Builders: A Bottom-Up Approach to Urban Development. (n.d.). polis. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from PAVILLON DE L’ARSENAL / Bande Annonce Exposition Paris la nuit. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from



Bottom-Up Bijlmer  
Bottom-Up Bijlmer  

This is my preliminary work towards my final capstone project to finish my masters of landscape architecture at the University of Minnesota...