The intention

In the 1960s, the municipality of Amsterdam came up with an ambitious plan to create a new residential area in the Bijlmermeer area with a strict separation between living and working.. Quality agreements were made about the construction and furnishing with plenty of space for greenery and recreation.

The approach

In the 1970s, the Amsterdam Urban Development Department developed ten-storey high-rise buildings in a characteristic hexagonal honeycomb structure and lots of greenery.. The municipality was inspired by the functional city ideas of the CIAM and the Swiss architect Le Corbusier, with a strict separation between living, work and recreation. Part of that philosophy is also the separation of, bicycle- and pedestrian traffic, which was strictly elaborated in the original planning of the Bijlmermeer.

The result

On 25 to stop coming up with new advice 1968 the first resident of the Bijlmermeer moved into the Hoogoord flat.

The Bijlmermeer became nationally known because of social problems. Some of the qualitative principles could not be achieved due to budget cuts. Due to the fact that the level of amenities in the neighborhood fell short of the expectations raised at the time of construction and because the modern, spacious flats had to compete with new single-family homes elsewhere in the region, the Amsterdam families for which the district was built stayed away. Instead, large groups of underprivileged people concentrated in the neighbourhood, which resulted in a neighborhood with mainly social rent (first 90% and now 77%) and little diversity. Among this group were many immigrants from the 1975 colony of Suriname became independent and later Ghanaians and Antilleans also moved in.

In 1984 Mayor van Thijn has decided to clean the center of Amsterdam and to chase the large group of junkies from the Zeedijk. This group went to the covered places and parking garages in the Bijlmer. All this resulted in certain places in the Bijlmermeer being plagued by crime, degradation and drug nuisance. There was also significant unemployment.

Another sound is of course that many people enjoy living and working in the Bijlmermeer. The melting pot has also led to an enormous diversity of open and friendly people who are literally creating a new society.

A large-scale renovation operation was launched in the 1990s, which has now come a long way. A large part of the high-rise buildings has been demolished and replaced by smaller-scale homes, including a lot of housing in the owner-occupied sector. The remaining flats will be thoroughly renovated. In addition, many of the originally elevated roads (the 'drifts') replaced by roads at ground level, by excavation of the dikes and the demolition of the viaducts. Most parking garages from the original design have also been demolished.

The renewal should lead to a less one-sided population composition and a more pleasant living environment. Also the Amsterdamse Poort shopping center dating from the eighties. Amsterdam Gate is in 2000 completely renovated. The district has in 2006 moved into a new office at Anton de Komplein.

The lessons

The Bijlmermeer is inspired by images of Le Corbusier in which functions such as living, work and traffic are separated from each other as much as possible. On the other hand, you can place the visions of urban planners who argue for the integration of functions to create a lively streetscape.. From this point of view, neighborhoods need multiple functions for a dynamic, local economy. The streets are then of eminent importance as a calling card for the neighborhood and as a social network through the city. The now deceased city planner Jane Jacobs, for example, was of the latter opinion.

Planner and district manager in Den Helder Martin van der Maas made an inspired translation of the ideas for Jacobs for district officials. These are the 10 lessen, that are well applicable to Southeast.

  1. The built environment has a major influence on the way people interact with each other in a neighborhood. In densely built, social ties develop better in various city districts than in green areas, monofunctional suburbs.
  2. A city or neighborhood is a problem of organized complexity, for which an approach based on individual sectors or variables is not sufficient.
  3. Community officials can be important government instruments for the creation and maintenance of optimally functioning, various neighborhoods.
  4. Social cohesion determines social safety. Its construction and maintenance cannot be institutionalized.
  5. A neighborhood must be continuously adaptable to the wishes and whims of a dynamic population. Blueprint elements such as large monofunctional architectural icons are therefore usually undesirable.
  6. Many face-to-face contacts in the public space are needed for an optimally functioning neighborhood. Mainly pedestrian traffic, and few cars.
  7. Lots of greenery in a neighborhood seems like a quality, but it usually isn't. Urban greenery thrives socially with scarcity. Otherwise it degenerates into desolate, unsuspecting and unsafe green.
  8. You cannot regenerate disadvantaged neighborhoods by demolishing them on a large scale, but by giving and stimulating hopeful processes a chance from below.
  9. Professional experts should not want to bend a neighborhood to their will, but take more of a role as a smart catalyst for neighborhood processes, bottom-up dish, and with the culture.
  10. An urban district can and should in many ways be regarded as an ecosystem: self-supporting, complex, and beautiful in itself

sources a.o.: Wikipedia, Municipality of Amsterdam.

Author: Bas Ruyssenaars


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