Charjan Steenhuis

Protect, Respect & Reconnect Van der Pek

Presentation Charjan Steenhuis. Click to openClick on image to view the presentation

It is the first urban plan of the world and containing lots of pioneering social- and cultural ideas. This is the Van der Pekbuurt in Amsterdam North. Unfortunately, in the last decade, it became the stage of a real political clash. On top of this, it seems that the inhabitants and the cultural- / historical values are forgotten by the policymakers. We are just in time to turn the tide…

The Van der Pekbuurt, build in 1914, is based on social and spatial ideologies derived from Ebenezer Howards ‘Garden Cities of Tomorrow’ and from its creator, the Dutch socialist frontrunner and architect Jan Ernst van der Pek. Back then, the neighbourhood was considered as a role model because of the implementation of pioneering social – and spacial ideas and the neighbourhood was in harmony.

Nowadays, housing corporation Ymere has put the neighborhood in a rather neglected state. As a result, the social structure is disrupted and the cultural, village-like values are at risk. This is due to Ymeres irresponsible, nontransparent and profit driven policy. Renovation plans so far encountered strong aversion and resistance amongst its inhabitants, the press and politicians. The main adversary of Ymeres policy and renovation plans is the renters committee Van der Pek. They are pleading for a stronger social approach with respect for the cultural- / historical values of the neighborhood as they were implemented in 1914.

In response  to the problems in the neighborhood caused by Ymeres regretful policy, I proposed a renovation plan to help restoring the neighborhoods social structure to its old glory. So within this new renovation plan the cultural and historical principles will be respected and social emancipation is high on the list. Furthermore, the Van der Pekbuurt will obtain a more central role in Amsterdam North, acting as a link between North and the Amsterdam Centre.

In addition, extra attention is needed for renovating the Mosveld area. In 1968, this former soccer playground was transformed to a market space together with a five meter high road. This road causes physical and visual segregation for the surrounding neighbourhoods because of its height and trees alongside the road.

The intervention is focused on the connection between the neighbourhoods on both sides of the road, the social emancipation of its inhabitants and the restoring of qualitative public space. Subsequently; trees are felled, 15 meter wide passages are carved out of the road, and a 240 meter L-shaped building is placed along the road side. This building is elaborated further and consists of shops, a museum / gallery and social housing for artists and current inhabitants of the Van der Pekbuurt.

With this intervention, the market is relocated and centered under the road. As a result, space that was occupied by the market before is now transformed into qualitative public spaces. The two solutions combined, namely the renovation for the whole neibourhood together with the plan for the Mosveld, will restore the harmony in the Van der Pekbuurt and will be a great impulse for Amsterdam North.

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