Dutch city testing the future of urban life (2023)


Dutch city is testing the future of urban living

(image credit:

Pavlo Glazkov/Alamy


Dutch city testing the future of urban life (1)

By Norman Miller5. April 2022

With a smorgasbord of neighborhoods focused on innovative architecture, sustainability and social enrichment, can Almere give us a glimpse of what urban life will look like in years to come?


A little over a century ago, anyone looking out over the water on the east bank of Amsterdam on a clear day would have seen Dutch fishermen hauling their nets out to sea. Today things are very different - over 200,000 people now live in a place that was once covered by the waters of the IJsselmeer, an inland sea that formed at the mouth of the North Seacut by a long dyke in the 1930s.

The settlement that arose where there was once water is Almere – the newest city in the Netherlands,coming out of non-existence in the 1970sin what is now the eighth largest city in the country. If Atlantis was the ancient city that, according to myth, disappeared beneath the waves, Almere is the modern answer that rose from the sea. And this as perhaps the most experimental city in the world, realizing different forms of expression of the “Design for Living” concept.

Many of Almere's growing array of distinctive neighborhoods provide a forum for both urban innovation and individual self-expression. Over the past 15 years, for example, thehomeruskwartier districtprovided some 1,500 home builders with a canvas to let their imaginations run wild, creating a cornucopia of individual homes amidst tree-lined avenues, parks and waterways, accompanied by local schools, markets and community amenities.

The district leader behind the first decade of this man-led architectural self-expression was Dutch experimental architect Jacqueline Tellinga. "The designers agreed on one thing: Almere shouldn't be high-rise, anonymous, drab," she says. For them, the huge variety of homes in Almere simply would not have been possible if traditional developers were in charge.

Within this general freedom of development, certain areas of Almere channel specific intriguing themes. At therainbow neighborhood(Rainbow Quarter) Kaleidoscopic colors predominate – tall, curved yellow houses meet navy blue row houses and bright red apartment towers (the Rode Donders) reminiscent of the grain silos that were once typical of the Dutch agricultural landscape.

(Video) The Dutch city testing the future of urban life
Dutch city testing the future of urban life (2)

Almere's two-story architecture uses flat roofs to create green spaces for housing (Credit: Visit Almere)

patterned(The Fantasy), on the other hand, is an enclave of flashy buildings that won a design competition in 1982 that set radical rules for its competitors. These included banning any use of foundations in their construction and rewarding projects that played ingeniously with materials and interior spaces. The Csplendor of remarkable housesThe result is now attracting architecture fans from all over the world to admire the contrasting results – from the Paneelhuis duo of geometric, fairytale-like thatched houses designed in startling triangular plans, to the Psyche house, which uses materials as diverse as mahogany, glass and aluminum combine in a structure with a wing-shaped living space supported by curved pillars.

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But cities are not only inhabited by those who have the resources to build such bizarre structures. In the Almere Poort area, there are budget houses designed to provide families with annual household incomes of less than €20,000 (£16,800 / $22,000) with quality housing designed by local architects. But instead of the gray skyscrapers and dilapidated neighborhoods that accompany cheaper housing in most cities around the world, Almere Poort combines this accessibility with an uplifting quality of life, thanks to a natural setting with forests and a beautiful beach in the background. district.

"It's the interplay between experimentation and proven techniques that makes Almere such an intriguing role model for others," says Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV, a Rotterdam-based global architecture and urbanism practice, from hisAlmere 2030The Masterplan provides a loose model to inspire city development over the next decade and work in partnership with the people who live here.

“We don't believe that a city should be the result of the vision of just one person or one organization”, says Maas.

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The birth of a new city

The creation of the world's largest man-made island - dubbed Flevoland and covering just under 1,000 square kilometers (386 sq mi) - in the late 1960s gave the land on which Almere sits theThe first residents arrived in the late 1970s. It formed the core of the community officially established in 1984. The innovative new city takes its name from the medieval Dutch word for inland sea, from which its land arose.

The main practical reason for founding Almere was to relieve housing pressure in one of the most densely populated parts of the Netherlands and to create a blank canvas in an unspoiled natural setting to make it easier for more people to move to the two main cities nearby, Stuff Amsterdam and Utrecht. .

Dutch city testing the future of urban life (3)

The Regenboogbuurt in Almere features colorful residential buildings, including Rode Donders, reminiscent of the Dutch grain silos that once dominated the landscape (Credit: Alamy)

Almere's city planners were inspired in part by a movement that took shape in England in the early 20th century - exemplified by the proposed new towns such as Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City north of London. The blueprints for this came from a visionary British urban planner with a name like a Dickensian character.

"Almere was a variation of thatgarden city principlesby Ebenezer Howard,” explains Jaap Jan Berg, an urban planning researcher affiliated with the influential International New Town Institute. He described Almere in his 2007 Dutch language bookyoung almereas a place of "ideals, ambitions, courage and experiences".

Garden Cities ideals include plenty of living spaces, contemporary living concepts, schools and health centers integrated into neighborhoods, good local public transport, and short distances between residential areas and green areas.

It was an approach ridiculed at the time by some Dutch city planners, who were used to ideas of modern high-rise living that dominated much of post-war planning. One of the leading architects of the 1970s, Carel Weeber, described the first parts of Almere to be built as examples of this.new stupidity("New Stupidity").

The original blueprint for Almere was laid out by world-renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas through his award-winning Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Koolhaas set out to create a distinctive three-story downtown. This concentrated underground car park is complemented by commercial and leisure facilities at ground level, which are now free of traffic. The three-story project was completed with an upper layer of vegetation planted on the roofs of the ground-floor buildings, where the houses and small apartment blocks are located.

Around 60% of Oosterwold is set aside to support 'urban agriculture', reducing the impact of climate change through miles of food

Nature has also been integrated into a city from the start, in the form of more than 40 km (25 miles) of coastline and 400 km (249 miles) of dedicated bike lanes. "Most residents live within five minutes of parks, cycle paths and public transport," says Liesbeth Hollander, spokeswoman for Almere's tourist board. "People often cite this as an important reason why they enjoy living in Almere so much."

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The freedom granted to Almere residents to play a key role in the development and appearance of their city has also raised eyebrows. When MVRDV first presented its vision of Almere at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale as a kind of "open source" collection of dispersed neighborhoods designed by local residents, architects and urban planners, Winy Maas says some European colleagues saw the idea as so radical that it seemed almost insane. Meanwhile, some Latin American colleagues warned against itnegative parallelsbetween the freedom residents are given and what they see as the chaos of places like Kunterbuntfavelasfrom Brazil.

a living experiment

Ask Maas if Almere is essentially an experimental city and he will give you a subtle answer. "Almere is not exactly an experimental city, but a city where experiments can happen," he says. “The difference is subtle but important. The city has always embodied proven urbanism traits - multiple cores, strong transport links and so on. But we found ways to experiment within those frameworks. Or, more importantly, we find ways to let others experience it."

Part of this process was based on a revolutionary approach to city planning using games - the brainchild of Ekim Tan, the founder of a game-based initiative calledplay the city, which was created in 2009 as a result of his doctoral thesis at the Technical University of Delft. The game can be created in different versions, adapted to explore the practical aspects of locations with different characters and needs.

Dutch city testing the future of urban life (4)

Almere is built on land reclaimed from the IJsselmeer inland sea and there are floating villas in some neighborhoods (Credit: Frans Lemmens/Alamy)

Play the City brings groups of local people together to make decisions about various aspects of land use and infrastructure design in an interactive game environment, requiring trade-offs at various stages to progress the game. This approach aims to discover what city dwellers really want in their living environment, encouraging collaborative decision-making and conflict resolution through maps, charts and interactive videos.

Almere residents have regularly played Tan's "game" to contribute to the development of different neighborhoods over the past decade - a process that also provides insights for city planners like Tan, who see "which rules people come from which Reason is most commonly used - or what rules they avoided or broke".

Use Play the City to guide the development of the Almere de Oosterwold district, a unique area developed to encourage local food production. Around 60% of their land is set aside to support “urban agriculture”, which not only gives residents the physical and emotional benefits of harvesting their own food, but also reduces the impact of climate change through miles of food.

Around 1,000 people flocked to Play the City: Oosterwold in 2011, mixing local residents with farmers, Almere city planners, legal experts and the National Water Board of the Netherlands - insights from the latter matter in a nation that stays largely below sea level.(Read more about the 1000 year history of the Dutch Water Boards.)

Among the outcomes of the game was a clear desire by people to build their homes as close to the water as possible - prompting the municipal government to change a previous planning criterion to require a 2 m (6.6 ft) long access lane. . Players were also attracted to community offsets such as road layouts during gameplay after realizing that anyone who scattered their plans haphazardly would not work well.

New neighborhoods set to take shape over the next decade include proposals for 500 houseboats on a vast lake

These citizen games also flowed into the MVRDV masterplan. "We didn't actually plan anything specific, but let residents build their own living quarters," says Maas. “In return, they have more responsibility – planning roads with their neighbours, organizing their own energy supply and so on. That sounds radical to some people – but this is how cities have been built for centuries.”

Among the new neighborhoods expected to take shape over the next decade is Almere Pampus - a neighborhood whose experimental opportunities include proposals for 500 houseboats on a vast lake.

Almere will also take advantage of hosting Floriade 2022 - the world's largest international horticultural exhibition - later this year (April to October) to create a new permanent green district in the heart of the city, once exhibitors leave it.

A role model for others

Almere's development is also inspiring other cities, providing examples of innovative urban planning in action. "Professionals - politicians, architects, urban planners - come from all over the world to see and learn from Almere," says JaapJan Berg, referring to China's special interest. “They worked in new cities and towns on a very different scale – places like Shenzhen. In the UK I would mention Milton Keynes and in France Marne-la-Vallée.”

The MVRDV, in turn, was based on the principles of AlmereRehabilitation of the center of the Dutch city of Eindhoven, which aims to allow this city to expand significantly while maintaining an air of "comfort". Almere's buzzwords include creating green spaces in the city center and using colorful buildings in distinctive ways to liven up the cityscape.

Principles learned in Almere are also applied on a smaller scale in the small Dutch village ofarmoredWho saw italmost 80% of homes badly damagedas a result of earthquakes triggered by fracking in the area.

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Dutch city testing the future of urban life (5)

Hot water, which heats up to 25,000 homes, is piped from Diemen to Almere in an 11 km (6.8 mile) pipe (Credit: Ashley Cooper/Alamy)

Key ideas tested in Almere, presented here, include the ability for residents to design their own new homes and shared decision-making about infrastructure and facilities. “Residents were asked what their aspirations are and what they want the village to look like in 10 years – [so] we gave residents a toolbox to give them the help and inspiration they needed to face the future in a handshake,” says Winy Maas.

While Almere offers a bold testing ground for urban experimentation and open-minded approaches to urban planning, Jacqueline Tellinga, project manager for Almerehomeruskwartier district, warns not to lose sight of some practical aspects, such as B. the risk of spreading in cities. “The distances are long, the roads are good and wide – all the more reason to drive than walking, cycling or using public transport,” she says.

But unlike many cities around the world where residents are being pushed out of city centers leading to suburban sprawl, Almere is showing signs of becoming less suburban rather than more suburban. This has led some researchers to describe Almere as an example ofnew kind of hybrid suburban city.

JaapJan Berg offers a more positive twist on Almere's lack of the typical continuous urban sprawl that some see as inherent in the idea of ​​a city. "Almere is the weakest if you look at it as a normal city," he says. “But his immaturity gives Almere room to choose several options and keep them open. Maintaining this spatial and mental notion of incompleteness gives the city a continuous dynamism.”

Winy Maas agrees. "Successful cities always come from the contribution of many people over years, decades, sometimes millennia," he says. "This belief has led to Almere's reputation for experimentation - how we allow individuals to add their own vision."


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What is the newest Dutch city? ›

Almere is the newest city in the Netherlands: the land on which the city sits, the Southern Flevoland polder, was reclaimed from the IJsselmeer from 1959 to 1968.

What is the futuristic city in the Netherlands? ›

The settlement created where water once lay is Almere – the newest city in the Netherlands, growing from non-existence in the 1970s to the country's eighth-largest city today. If Atlantis was the ancient city myth says disappeared beneath the waves, Almere is the modern riposte, risen from the sea.

What Dutch city begins with E? ›

Eindhoven. Located in the province of North Brabant, Eindhoven is the fifth largest city in the Netherlands.

What is the compact city policy Netherlands? ›

The compact city policy was welcomed in The Netherlands as a spatial concept during the mid eighties. The compact city concept meant a strengthening of the city as a place to live and to work in.

What is the most Dutch city in America? ›

Sioux Center, Iowa is the city with the largest percentage of Dutch in the United States (66% of the total population). Also, there are three private high schools with their respective primary school feeders in the Chicago area that mainly serve the Dutch-American community.

Where is the largest Dutch population in the United States? ›

Nowadays, most Dutch Americans (27%) live in California, followed by New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania. According to the 2000 United States Census, more than 5 million Americans claim total or partial Dutch heritage.

What Dutch city became New York? ›

Following its capture, New Amsterdam's name was changed to New York, in honor of the Duke of York, who organized the mission. The colony of New Netherland was established by the Dutch West India Company in 1624 and grew to encompass all of present-day New York City and parts of Long Island, Connecticut and New Jersey.

What is the oldest Dutch city? ›

Of Roman origin (its name derives from 'Noviomagus' meaning 'new market') the city celebrated its 2000th anniversary in 2005. This makes Nijmegen the oldest city in the Netherlands. Nijmegen was also the imperial residence during the Carolingian period.

What was New York called by the Dutch? ›

New Netherland was the first Dutch colony in North America. It extended from Albany, New York, in the north to Delaware in the south and encompassed parts of what are now the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, and Delaware.

What is the problem with compact city? ›

While compact cities promise short commutes and sustainable designs, these benefits are not guaranteed. The problems preventing the desired outcomes include failure to consider the concentrated impact of dense populations on the environment and lack of planning for green space and pollution control.

What are the benefits of compact city? ›

There are many perceived benefits of the compact city over urban sprawl, which include: less car dependency thus lower emissions, reduced energy consumption, better public transport services, increased overall accessibility, the re-use of infrastructure and previously developed land, a regeneration of existing urban ...

Is there Homelessness in Netherlands? ›

This statistic shows the total number of homeless people in the Netherlands from 2009 to 2021, by location (in thousands). It reveals that between 2009 and 2021, the majority of the homeless people lived outside the four major cities Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

What would a futuristic city look like? ›

In the future, cities may see flying vehicles, mega bridges, super-connected street experiences, and underground spaces. Those futuristic cities will be powered by big data, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence – so they may live, breathe, and even think with us.

What is the most futuristic city in 2022? ›

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Easily one of the richest cities in the world, Dubai is not only considered the world's most futuristic city because of its many skyscrapers, but also because of its breathtaking artificial islands.

Which city has the best future? ›

Out of 200 global cities, Tokyo has been named the most 'future-ready', followed by Hangzhou, Helsinki, Tallinn and Taipei. Durham, Aberdeen, Sapporo, Boulder and Madrid round out the top ten. The analysis was carried out by research firm ThoughtLab in partnership with consultancy Hatch Urban Solutions.

What US state is most like the Netherlands? ›

Holland, Michigan - feels like Amsterdam

The city, located almost alongside Lake Michigan, has made it a point to preserve Dutch culture with food like Dutch apple pie and lots of cheese, Dutch architecture and events like the Dutch Winterfest and the Tulip Time Festival.

How many Americans are Dutch? ›

America is home to approximately 4.5 million people of Dutch heritage who reside mostly in Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Where are Dutch people known for? ›

The Netherlands (or Holland) may be a small country, but it's packed with world famous icons. Discover our bulb fields, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, canals of Amsterdam, masterpieces of Old Masters, Delft Blue earthenware, innovative water-management and millions of bicycles.

Why do Americans have Dutch last names? ›

When Dutch people arrived in the United States or other English-speaking countries, often their names got changed. This was either done on purpose, to make the name easier to write and remember, or by accident because the clerk didn't know how to spell the name and wrote it down phonetically.

What did the Dutch call America? ›

This included Belgians who had moved first to the Netherlands, then to the Americas. The first 31 families arrived in the harbor of the North River in 1623 aboard the “New Netherland,” and by 1624, the colony of “New Amsterdam” began to be formed.

Who are the Dutch descended from? ›

The Dutch (Dutch: Nederlanders) are a Germanic ethnic group and nation native to the Netherlands. They share a common ancestry and culture and speak the Dutch language.
Dutch people.
Total population
New Zealand100,000
37 more rows

Who sold New York to the Dutch? ›

This letter from Peter Schaghen, written in 1626, makes the earliest known reference to the company's purchase of Manhattan Island from the Lenape Indians for 60 guilders. Schaghen was the liaison between the Dutch government and the Dutch West India Company.

What are old Dutch names in New York? ›

The following towns in New York have names that were derived from Dutch: Claverack, Cobleskill, Greenbush (East and North), Kinderhook, Plattekill, Nassau, Poestenkill, Rensselaer, Saugerties, Valatie, Voorheesville, Watervliet, and Wynantskill.

How did the Dutch influence America? ›

The Dutch colonists impacted the cultural landscape of the Hudson River Valley in ways that include its ethnic makeup, spoken languages, religious institutions, traditions, architectural styles, and other cultural markers.

What was Dutch called before? ›

Netherlands Nederland (Dutch)
Before independenceSpanish Netherlands
Act of Abjuration26 July 1581
Peace of Münster30 January 1648
Kingdom established16 March 1815
52 more rows

What is the warmest Dutch city? ›

Nijmegen has an oceanic climate (Cfb). It is one of the warmest cities of the Netherlands, especially during summer, when the highest temperatures in the country are usually measured in the triangle Roermond–Nijmegen–Eindhoven.

When did the Dutch lose New York? ›

The Dutch gave up the colony without a fight.

The breaking point came in March 1664, when English King Charles II awarded the colony's land to his brother, the Duke of York, even though the two countries were then technically at peace.

What does Bronx mean in Dutch? ›

Bronx (New York, after Jonas Bronck) Broadway (Manhattan, after Breede Wegh which means broad road)

How did the Dutch treat the natives? ›

French and Dutch colonization in the Americans focused on the profitable fur trade. Depending on Native Americans to hunt animals for their pelts, French and Dutch colonizers cultivated friendly relationships with Native Americans through intermarriage and military alliances.

Did the Dutch settlement flourish or fail? ›

New Amsterdam started to become an important port and started doing business with many trade partners. This led to a growth in population and the settlement flourished.

What are 4 problems that cities face? ›

Major issues and problems confronting US cities today include those involving fiscal difficulties, crowding, housing, traffic, pollution, public education, and crime. Several of these problems stem directly from the fact that cities involve large numbers of people living in a relatively small amount of space.

What are two major problems cities face? ›

Half of the global population already lives in cities, and by 2050 two-thirds of the world's people are expected to live in urban areas. But in cities two of the most pressing problems facing the world today also come together: poverty and environmental degradation.

What are 3 advantages of living in a city? ›

  • There are often roads of a better quality and well-built houses in urban areas.
  • Transport facilities are highly developed and often receive regular funding for updates. ...
  • Due to better public transport, you can save money on a car.
  • Most amenities and entertainments are easy to reach.

Why cities are better than small towns? ›

Bigger cities will always have more businesses opening and expanding, which means there are always ample job opportunities. More job opportunities mean you have a better chance of getting a job within the field you want. If you are thinking about starting your own business, then a big city is also the best choice.

Can you sleep in your car in Netherlands? ›

Sleeping in a vehicle is not permitted in Amsterdam for your own safety. A fine of € 140 can be imposed.

Are there beggars in Netherlands? ›

The first thing you notice when you emerge from the train station in Amsterdam are the aggressive beggars. The beggars are more aggressive in Amsterdam than most other places we've been; thanks to Amsterdam's party culture, they know travelers are more likely to give up money.

What nationality is the most homeless? ›

In short, the country with the highest rate of homelessness worldwide is Syria, with thirty-seven and a half per cent of their population living without a proper home. However, Nigeria has the highest number of homeless people, with 24,400,000 citizens without proper living quarters.

What is the most modern city in the Netherlands? ›

Rotterdam became one of the most modern cities in the world. World famous architects developed the city mostly in the 1980s. There are classic glass-dominated high rise building as well as many more "daring" structures such as Cube Houses or Erasmus Bridge. In downtown, next to St Lawrence church there is Market Hall.

When did the Dutch lose New Amsterdam? ›

On August 27, 1664, while England and the Dutch Republic were at peace, four English frigates sailed into New Amsterdam's harbor and demanded New Netherland's surrender, effecting the bloodless capture of New Amsterdam.

What is the cheapest city in Netherlands to live? ›

Where to live in the Netherlands on a budget. Amstelveen, Hilversum, and Zaandam are good options for people who want to save on living expenses while remaining close to Amsterdam. Those looking for more affordable housing closer to The Hague or Rotterdam can look into living in smaller cities like Delft or Gouda.

What is the safest city in the Netherlands? ›

Amsterdam is one of the world's safest cities

Amsterdam has been named one of the safest cities in the world, in the latest Safe Cities Index from The Economist Intelligence Unit. The Dutch capital placed 2nd in Europe and 6th globally. The index ranks 60 cities worldwide across 5 continents.

What is Netherlands best known for? ›

The Netherlands (or Holland) may be a small country, but it's packed with world famous icons. Discover our bulb fields, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, canals of Amsterdam, masterpieces of Old Masters, Delft Blue earthenware, innovative water-management and millions of bicycles.

What factors made the Dutch colony successful? ›

Inexpensive and plentiful land was the lure that brought many Dutch to North America. The colonists found wealth in animal furs, mining, farming, and trade.

Who is the first Dutch? ›

Cornelis-de-Hartmann was the first Dutch Citizen to reach India via Cape of Good Hope in 1596 AD. 1602 AD, the first Dutch Company United East India Company was created and its first permanent trading post in Indonesia. Dutch had a monopoly on the spice trade in India in the 17th century.

Why did Dutch empire fall? ›

It was exhausted by its long land wars, its fleet was in a state of neglect, and its colonial empire stagnated and was eclipsed by that of England. In 1795 the republic collapsed under the impact of a Dutch democratic revolution and invading French armies.

Did the Dutch bring slaves to New Amsterdam? ›

In New Amsterdam, most of the enslaved population belonged to the Dutch West India Company, and these people became a very important part of the town's society. Most slaves arrived in small groups on board ships that carried various people and goods from the Dutch colony of Curaçao in the Caribbean.

Why did the Dutch leave the Netherlands to come to America? ›

Many of the Dutch immigrated to America to escape religious persecution. They were known for trading, particularly fur, which they obtained from the Native Americans in exchange for weapons.


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