Amsterdam Vrijstaat

Photo: IABR archive
    • from September 25, 2009 to January 10, 2010
    • Tolhuistuinen, Amsterdam
    • IJpromenade 2, Amsterdam

As its contribution to the 4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR), the Municipality of Amsterdam presents the city of Amsterdam as a “Free State” – a place where designers display their ideas about a free and open future – in the exhibition The Free State of Amsterdam (Amsterdam Vrijstaat). Amsterdam wants to give new meaning to the saying “The city’s air is liberating”.

In the Tolhuistuin, the exhibition The Free State of Amsterdam presents the visions of nine design firms on the future of Amsterdam. In addition, the exhibition The Young Free State shows how Amsterdam children and young people view the city.

    • Credits

Specifically, Amsterdam has asked itself whether there is a form of planning that increases rather than restricts the degrees of freedom. Can chance, flashes of inspiration and spontaneity be a part of the planning process? Is there room to experiment? How quickly can the city adapt to changing circumstances? Can planning be multi-layered, openended, full of paradoxes and, in some respects, chaotic and open? These questions are relevant now that Amsterdam is preparing a new master development plan, but could also be significant for cities elsewhere in the world that strive for openness and that cherish values such as tolerance and liberty: cities that see diversity as the very essence of their existence.

Nine firms of young urban planners from Amsterdam and Rotterdam have therefore fleshed out their vision of freedom and planning in nine largescale models for various areas of their proposed metropolis. None of these designs lay any claim to practicability, but neither are they mere utopias. Because this is an exercise in increasing the degrees of freedom – with room for improvisation, new insights, and interaction with local residents – the designs could perhaps be better described as “splendid accidents.” The designers only wish to present strategies and ideas, not actual plans. To avoid even a hint of official blue-printing, they continue to work on their models during the Biennale, integrating ongoing input and thus making the exhibition a true workplace that reveals its full potential only towards the end.

Nine Visions on the City

Western Harbour District –Temporarily Open as Strategy
office: Rietveld Landscape I Atelier de Lyon
Initiatives from talented creative professionals, researchers and subcultures will find an exhilarating temporary location along the IJ, resulting in a huge creative free port that never sleeps; an inspiration for bigger achievements.

The River IJ north bank – Experiments on Noorderveld
office: Urhahn Urban Design
Urhahn Urban Design is launching a freedom struggle for Amsterdam North, aiming ar the creation of a free state within the Free State, where inhabitants can do their thing, and that becomes a place for new collectivity. 

Eastern Islands – Freedom under Threat
office: Karres and Brands

The Karres and Brands design reinforces the isolation of the eastern islands, designing walled gardens and free (thinking) places as a safe haven for artists, writers, politicians and intellectuals under threat.

Het Nieuwe Diep – The ‘Free Street’ of Amsterdam

office: ZUS

In the area around the Nieuwe Diep, Zus is proposing a “small-scale mega structure” to connect the neighborhoods, people, plants and animals. The Spinoza Promenade and the Vrijstraat (or the Rue de Descartes) will be two public streets where people can live and work – the one organic and green, the other geometric and urban.

Head of the Amstel Wedge – Landscape of Liberty
office: MUST
urban design
In MUST’s design, the Amstelscheg on the south side of Amsterdam will claim green space back from the city. In return the city will be presented with a completely new metropolitan landscaped park.

Duivendrechtse Veld – From Urban District to Free City

In his proposal for the future of Duivendrechtse Veld, Arjan Klok shows that there are untold possibilities for carefree living, working and spending leisure time in this now ramshackle area.

Gaasperplas – An Aquatic Free State

office: Alle Hosper

If it were up to Alle Hosper, the suburban Gaasperdam would be a free state on the water. The proposal is to enlarge the lake and extend it to the shores of the River Gein, creating a waterscape that will stimulate new private real estate investment in the area.

Nieuwe Meer – Awareness

office: Güller Güller architecture urbanism
Mathis Güller believes that the Nieuwe Meer (”the New Lake”), the “natural gap” between the international airport of Schiphol and the city of Amsterdam should be redesigned as a zone for global awareness: a “blank page” for the global city, on which one can write over and over again.

Sloterplas – The Land of Milk and Honey
office: B+B

In the proposal of B+B, the area around Sloterplas becomes a place where people can celebrate boredom; where laziness and love are the most important values; where one can enjoy good food and where fairy tales and dreams are the ultimate expression of freedom.