ALLOCATED GROUNDS 04

  • Competition (first prize)
  • Amsterdam
  • NL
  • 2002
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AG #04 concerns the transformation of the present identity of “de Punt” by a spatial as well as social redefinition of its existing urban structure.

The project offers an urban scheme based on a clear and deliberate (re-)definition of different types of urban space within the framework of the existing. Each space, whether it’s green, blue, black or even orange, is specified by its spatial (open, closed, inward, outward, linear, shattered, dividing, connecting, … ) and social (ranging from individual to collective and everything in-between) characteristics. The future “de Punt” area is conceived as a self-contained quarter with a strong and unique spatial identity, composed of different smaller individual neighborhoods and a larger collective central area, mutually connected by a fine and subtle collective spatial structure, which self evidently fits in the spatial as well as historical valuable urban fabric of Amsterdam-West.

AG 04 is explicitly restricted to the scope an urban scheme: a well-defined spatial and conceptual framework for future elaboration and materialization, which rather provides heterogeneous and divergent possibilities instead of imposing too many obsolete restrictions.

AG 04 intends to combine the concept of openness, dating from the days that the “de Punt” was conceived, with its reinterpretation as emptiness in later years into an scheme that appropriately expresses the present meaning of urban space: Emptiness is filled by the careful spatial and social redefinition of urban spaces, while openness, on different levels of perception, is provided in their serial layout.

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1. Most of the existing built mass of “de Punt” and its typical spatial characteristics is preserved. Only the garages and a few houses should be demolished in order to open up a bit the typical urban “stamps” and clear the central area. Temporary schools and many other cheap constructions in the area could of course be removed or replaced as much as wished.

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2. Roads (max. speed 30km/h) are laid out, following the existing infrastructure and directly linking the central area of “de Punt” to its surroundings. Linear collective spaces of an urban scale, which structure the quarter; while bounding different spatial entities (neighborhoods) within, they merely pass and do not enter.

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3. Paths fit in the road system, spatially establishing the entity of different neighborhoods, while opening them up for bikes and pedestrians.

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4. Ditches are dug along the paths, and flooded: linear collective spaces like roads and paths, but not accessible without getting wet. These waters enhance the long views from the boundaries to the center, and vice versa, already provided by roads and paths. Unlike the paths they don’t enclose separated entities: they establish a certain spatial unity along the quarter by their serial lay-out.

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5. Collective parcels for parking are spread throughout the site, “green” spaces in their own right, but providing for the minimum of parking space required and probably materialized as such.

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6. Enclosed gardens complete the small-scale local structure of collective urban spaces of different kinds. Each garden probably will be materialized according to the prevailing taste, morality, public opinion or political ratio on its specific location within the quarter. Together with the parking parcels they establish a sort of informal infrastructure throughout the site, providing unexpected shortcuts and places to stay.

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7. Individual parcels are laid out, fitting the urban scheme. Some are attached to existing masses, others are sold to individuals, both corporate and private, in order to …

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8. …. be developed accordingly, providing a great deal of freedom and flexibility in use, time and design.

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9. Bridges complete the fine and informal collective infrastructure on the site, establishing many unexpected routes. Bridges not merely connect; they establish autonomous urban spaces.

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10. A large open space, suitable for large-scale public events, defines the central area of “de Punt”, structuring the quarter as a whole, while linking up with the existing structure of other open and green collective spaces of Amsterdam-West and the former landscape of “de Aker”.

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11. The open landscape of the central area establishes by its explicit design a strong spatial as well as formal identity. Right in the center, on the ‘Dijkgraafplein’, a significant collective monument should be realized: Dan Graham’s Skateboardpavilion.

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1_16Skateboardpavilion by Dan Graham

The main issue for urbanism today, not in the least in case of specific post-war living areas like ‘de Punt’, concerns the question whether it is, or will be possible to (re-)activate urban space in a social as well as cultural sense. A question, which can’t possibly be answered by design alone. So AG #04 proposes to involve the inhabitants of ‘de Punt’ collectively in the elaboration of the urban scheme. ‘Inhabitants-participation’; an intrinsic (re-)definition of existing public enquiry procedures, in this case with specific collectives of inhabitants, organized by spatially defined neigborhoods, as fully fledged clients for parts of the urban scheme. In order to tempt and enable the interested party to participate actively instead of passively in the design of their direct surroundings. On the one hand a social and strategic process aimed at the self-evident realization and social implementation of the urban scheme. On the other hand an appealing social and cultural event, which in its own right could already contribute profoundly to the transformation and presentation of the collective identity of the area. In any case a collective attempt to actually redesign the concept of a multicultural society.

The concept of inhabitants-participation is presented in an organizational diagram of the design process in relation to governmental planning procedures.

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