In the 1960’s Amsterdam planned an extension to the south east of the city. Bijlmermeer was meant to be the ultimate example of modern urban design. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to expectations. Too much was built too quickly for it to become an integral part of the city. The honeycomb parcellation with 12-story high rise flats were unpopular. People left as soon as they could and hardly anybody moved in.
Utopia became shrink city – the ultimate urban nightmare. Learning from that experience, politicians and professionals – after blaming each other for a short while – got together to find remedies.
Space is scarce in the Netherlands. Every available acre is precious. Wasteland shouldn’t exist.
Land that is reclaimed from water deserves to be defended at all cost.
This project is part of a vast effort to rehabilitate the neighborhood. Elevated roads are eliminated where possible. Traffic comes back to ground level. Viaducts are replaced by roundabouts. Entrances return to the level where people walk and ride their bikes. Bijlmermeer is coming down to earth.
Private ownership is stimulated by selling rental flats and building houses that can be reached through an individual front door. As the traditional family household is no longer the standard, different forms of living apart or together are accommodated. Various nationalities bring their own expectations and customs to this area from all over the world.
The sunny north side of Karspeldreef features long horizontal building blocks that form a continuous front. Existing tower blocks on the south side are joined by an equal number of high rise buildings, emphasizing the vertical character and bringing unity. Denser, yet still transparent to allow sunlight into the street.
The architectural expression is extravert: light, airy, transparent and ‘modernistic’. Materials of choice are glass, steel, high quality concrete, and glazed bricks with minimal joints to provide an abstract surface. Weathering should be graceful and add dignified beauty in time.
Coherence is assured by providing guidelines and continuously discussing plans at crucial moments. Utopia can wait.
Amsterdam South East