Day 73: Exploring Amsterdam Noord

Today we were lucky to have Cornelia showing us around again. She’s a wealth of knowledge on the city, providing so many interesting tidbits on what we’re seeing.

In the neighbourhood she pointed out the garbage collection: the bins are a large bin approximately 2m cubed, with a small receptacle on top and are recessed in the ground to to reduce their impact on the sidewalk. They also prevent people from digging through, which is a more eloquent solution than the locked bins in around our apartment in Vancouver. These large bins are only emptied every few weeks, reducing disruption in the neighbourhood.

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It was our lucky day – we got to see the garbage bins being emptied.

Many of the streets are made of modular elements, which is genius. It makes adjustments for bike lanes, sidewalk width, curbs, bollards, etc. a simpler task, without having to tear our large areas of concrete or asphalt. We saw a playground being constructed where there had been parking, a common trend in the neighbourhood.

A completed neighbourhood park.  There was a sign from the neighbourhood thanking the city for the park.

A completed neighbourhood park. There was a sign from the neighbourhood thanking the city for the park.

We headed out to explore Amsterdam North. For a long time this area wasn’t even considered part of the city by people living in the south, but recently it’s been an area of some interesting developments and it’s sure to see more rather rapidly.

The building of the Eye, the film museum on the Ij (pronounced eye) was the first step in the developments. At the time it was considered crazy to have an iconic building on this side of the river, but as mentioned early there is always an public anchor before residential development. We took the free ferry over here and enjoyed their lounge space that was open to the public – beanbag chairs and large pillow on stepped platforms.

We visited Noorderparkkamer, an inclusive and well programmed park, where in the summer all kinds of people share the same place. Around here we also saw the suburban version of the canal house. Same width and roof details, just one storey rather than four.

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We stopped at the 3D print canal house workshop. You can print anything these days, though it looks like they still have a few kinks to iron out.

Next stop was De Ceuvel, where following a design competition, a piece of polluted land had been given to a group of startups for the next 10 years to rehabilitate the land and develop their sustainable minded businesses. Because of the toxins in the soil, they couldn’t build directly on the land. Their solution was to take old houseboats and prop them up, connecting them with a meandering boardwalk. We stopped for a drink at their patio.

There’s a changing relationship with the creative class and the city. In the past the squatters were discouraged by the city, but now similar groups of people are encouraged (and in some cases exploited) by the city to be the first step in development or gentrification.

Next on the tour was NDSM wharf; a place for artists, street art, flea markets, events and even what’s left of a train car squatters village.

Darren and Cornelia geeking out on urbanism while I documented.

Darren and Cornelia geeking out on urbanism while I documented.

The old ship building warehouse is used as artists studios where the space is rented by the air volume and studios are built on different levels, connected by catwalks.

Nearby there was another adaptive reuse example: Kranspoor office, which has 3rd floors of offices, which a mechanized double skinned facade on the top of a old craneway.

There were a couple of hotels spurred on by the creativity of the area. The first is a 3 room hotel in a crane, with a private hot tub on the top. Amsterdam’s thrills – use what’s existing and make a different experience from it.

I want to go to the hot tub on the top of this!

I want to go to the hot tub on the top of this!

Botel (a hotel on a boat – get it?) tried to bolster its popularity and added fiberglass letters to the top, which are actually rooms.

It was that awesome spring day where it’s exceptionally sunny and warm and you can feel summer right around the corner. Ther perfect place to spend the afternoon was at Pllek, an urban beach in Amsterdam North. There were unusual lounge chairs, wine and plenty of people to watch.

We reluctantly peeled ourselves off our lounge chairs, and headed back to the apartment. The famous chips and mayo from an organic shop near the ferry was our reward. We said goodbye to our hosts, who had to return to real life instead of hanging out with us all day and headed to our hostel.

A traffic circle with a fully separated bike lane - a thing of beauty.

A traffic circle with a fully separated bike lane – a thing of beauty.

The Dutch enjoying the sun.

The Dutch enjoying the sun.

We wandered around in the evening and saw the carnival set up downtown. They set this up in no time – it was only half assembled the day before. We also saw a few rowdy boat parties go by on the canal. Everyone wants a friend with a boat.

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