Dissenter meeting about IJ-burg II. Transform post #24
Amsterdam aims to build 5.000 new dwellings a year, which are needed because the city is growing. One of the projects regarding this goal is a new island in the IJ-Lake, south east of the old city centre. A kind of Nordhavn, known for Transformers from Copenhagen. On Wednesday June 4th I was invited, together with experts from different fields of expertise, to a meeting to review the plans of the city; it turned out to be an interesting meeting. It made me think of the Intensive Lab Sessions of Transform and my Transform experience proved itself very useful.
The plan in IJ-burg II is to build a dense district of about 1.200 apartments and houses, built mostly by citizens in a collective way, with several facilities, like shops, sport and workplaces. Below I will address some of the topics discussed in the meeting and relate them to my Transform experience.
One general recommendation was that the city needs to make clear decisions upfront and set clearly defined goals. Further I will explain why.
One of the aims is to build a city where people can live in a healthy way, all their life; from 1 year old to 99. This can be reached by:
- Building centralized easy to reach sport facilities for all ages,
- Build centralized parking places and not placing a car in front of every house, so people will walk and take the bike instead,
- Make the new neighbourhood car free so children can play safely on the streets while cycling and walking is encouraged.
The most important outcome of this part of the discussion was the need to be clear about cars and parking. This is what we discussed in Transform and saw in the city of Freiburg, Germany in the new district of Vauban.
All the buildings will be climate neutral; the same goal Copenhagen has for Nordhavn, Hamburg for Willemsburg and Vienna for Aspern. But what kind of energy system is needed for a district where buildings are extremely energy efficient? All electric? Smart grid with district heating? Bio gas from sewerage for heating? No one seems to know, the business case is not clear and the stakeholders are multiple. Feels like a Transform question… We discussed the idea of a tender for the energy infrastructure. The outcome needs to be set as a starting point for all buildings.
A flexible district
As we learned (again) from the last financial crisis humans are not that good in predicting the future. What will a new district look like in ten or twenty years? How could a district be adaptable for future change? How can a government facilitate change and does a city need to set rules? Or could a city leave it to the people? Who is going to invest in temporary solutions? And what if a temporary facility is very successful and popular?
We were not able to solve this wicked question. Maybe citizens have to come with the solution in time.
Last year, the city asked ARCAM (Architectural centre of Amsterdam) together with citizens to make future plans for the island. The results can be found on Stadinzicht.arcam. What citizens want is also a healthy, sustainable and liveable new part of town.
After discussing this topic we think the city needs to decide how to keep citizens involvement alive to build a new community that embraces the wanted goals towards a sustainable, healthy, flexible, and resilient district. But also that the city has to be clear about the roles citizens and administration can have in the process.