Designing a complete, sustainable community in the Netherlands.

by Anita Van Asperdt on September 6, 2012

in Places for All Ages, Sustainable urban design, Walkable Neighborhoods

This summer twenty-three students from the University of British Columbia created seven urban design solutions for a site in Amsterdam-North in the Netherlands. Students were asked to design a complete, sustainable community and address urban design strategies within current economic and environmental uncertain times. LandCurrent’s principal landscape architect Anita Van Asperdt  and professor Cynthia Girling led the studio with assistance from Nicole Taddune a Canadian landscape architect.
Students studied existing neighborhoods in Amsterdam as well as several eco-districts. These studies informed their designs.  The design site named  Overhoeks, is located in North Amsterdam directly across the IJ-river from Amsterdam’s Central Station.

Due to the economic crisis development of this site has halted which prompted students to look at phased approaches to urban design and to new urban development strategies ranging from plug-in and pop- up initiatives,  self built strategies as well as  we-own-the-city and spontaneous city movements. In addition  potential sea level rising is particularly important to the Netherlands, a country that to a large extend is located below current sea level. This  inspired students to take a look at  fresh water retention solutions  floating buildings and floating public spaces. Along with this students proposed an urban morphology that responds to surrounding context provides  flexible and mixed uses and provides for active,  safe and durable public spaces. The resulting proposals add to the Amsterdam’s existing choices in urban living and working environments in inspiring ways. Below follows a brief synopsis of the proposals. Students presented their work on August 29 2012,  to  city planners, the developer for the site, and local architects and landscape architects.

Students Ania Duran, Alex Skibicki and Tania White developed their urban design around the concept of Bridging, creating connections to surrounding sites and transportation options.

Overhoeks “The Hook of the North” with students Matt Gibbs, Lindsey Fryett and Amanda Grochowich introduced a strong diagonal route through the site thereby linking the site to surrounding neighborhoods and creating a direct  connection to the ferry into central Amsterdam.

Emphasizing Overhoeks as an area with its own identity and history tied to water and in particular to the IJ river, students Dan Borslein, Lukas Holy and Maysa Phares  titled their plan IJ amsterdam. The plan provides a continuous cohesive green waterfront that is shaped as a horseshoe around the area.

Blue Light District was presented by Caelan Griffiths, Shan Liu, Andrew Yu and Mira Yung as a holistic ecological water design. The plan proposes a blue & green corridor with water plazas and urban marches that retain and clean stormwater, a active IJ waterfront, a green boulevard to the adjacent existing residential neighborhood and a program of floating buildings and floating public spaces.









Pietra Basilij, Vicki Guo and Allison Savigny propsed a Garden City for the 21st century with an variety of public parks and garden larger and smaller, pubic and private along with topography which allows for temporary flooding of the area.

Inspired by contemporary urban developed experiments in the Netherlands, Ryan Goghlan, Thomas Daley and Paul Peters named their design LAB. They proposed “an urban development experiment that is user-led, based upon a mimimal framework and highly flexible infrastructure, that is seeded with local businesses and programs to activate the site and development that can adapt to the changing cultural and economic climate of Amsterdam.”

Based upon the same economic uncertainties project Plug in City was designed by Alexander Suvajac, Emily Sprague, Glenis Canete and Terence Radford.  This project divides the area into several distinct areas each highly suitable for a variety of residents who can adapt and create their own live-work spaces in numerous manners that are minimally regulated.



For more information about this study abroad program and other similar programs by Anita Van Asperdt call: 541-434-2458  or email anita at landcurrent dot com.

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