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05.05.2005: (Amsterdam (Niederlande)) "History of Amsterdam Development"    [geschrieben von Die_Krone]

(Taken out of the book Amsterdam Human Capital by Muster/Salet, Chapters 2.1 by Mak and 4.1 by van Engelsdorp Gastelaars)

In the Middle Ages, “Amsterdam is an eternal battle between man and nature. Not the nature of spectacular rock formations, wild rivers or the furious sea, but the dullest nature there is: sucking, sopping mud” (Mak 2003: 31, in Muster/Salet 2003).

In the 17th century (the Golden Age) the so called “grachtengordel” was built. The city was growing fast from 50,000 inhabitants in 1600 to 139,000 in 1640. In addition the artificial islands in the east of the city were created for the ship industry. Despite its size, the new district for the ordinary folk, the Jordaan, was treated as an afterthought. It was simply “tacked on” to the canal belt, with its streets and canals following the original pattern of the drainage ditches in the polder on which it was built. This, incidentally, explains the unusually sharp street corners where the Jordaan and the “grachtengordel” meet along the Prinsengracht.

The period 1865-1914 was the first since the Golden Age of the 17th century in which the Netherlands and Amsterdam experienced systematic growth. But compared to industrial centres this growth was not that extreme. Amsterdam until today has nearly no important industries without the harbour related ones, which were responsible for the growth in this time. Even if Amsterdam was the financial and commercial centre of the Netherlands also the CBD-development was limited due to the general low level of industrialisation in the Netherlands. From three luxury housing projects only was – and then only partly – realised at the Vondelpark.

1918-1970, the Amsterdam development is dominated by the “Algemeen Uitbreidingsplan” (AUP, General Extension Plan). One of the most important parts of it was Plan Zuid from Berlage. This city extension was planned for housing needs and was built deliberately compact to have a solid demand for public transport. Before World War II just the Berlage plan was implemented. The real work to implement the AUP began in the 1950s. Compact urbanisation, harmonised design in a functional and modernist style were key words of this development. During this time the municipality of Amsterdam could plan autonomously.

Between 1970 and 1995 the Dutch state largely took over responsibilities for co-ordinating the design of the metropolitan regions in the Netherlands. The concept of “clustered de-concentration” has been invented which led to the new towns 20 to 30 kilometers around the city. The regional new towns strategy of the past 30 years has been accompanied within the cities themselves by a policy of regeneration. In the 1970s and 1980s, this was known as “urban renewal policy” and featured programs mainly upon renovating the building stock in dis-advantaged neighbourhoods. Later on one started the strategy of “urban revitalisation” by introducing more expensive owner-occupied housing into downgraded districts.


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