A visit to the destruction of the PostCS-building and to the notorious Bijlmermeer-area, a seventies high-density housing development in the South-East of Amsterdam, was the apotheosis of MovingCities’ recent Amsterdam trip. A couple of snapshots and related Rem Koolhaas stories.
The Post CS-building used to be an old postal service building, located on walking distance from Amsterdam Central Station. Throughout the past four years the building had the flair of a creative concrete box, unassuming temporary in its lay-out, a beehive for creative hipsters, the critical global conference-crew and architects in need for a table and an internet connection. On top, it had possibly Amsterdam’s best urban view on its top floor, from the now legendary Club11
Now the cranes have replaced the creatives and the adjacent Amsterdam Public Library had set a new architectural style, ending the concrete-era and introducing the politically-correct-public-building era. Post CS used to be the base of Mediamatic Lab, is a web2.0 agency based which designs social networks, communities and connections with the physical world. Their exhibition-space displayed in 2005 the F.A.S.T.-project (Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory) and outcome of the architecture competition. Later on Bert de Muynck | MovingCties gave in Mediamatic’s Spatial Slide Salon a presentation about his experience in participating in the ‘Capturing the Moving Mind: Management and Movement in the Age of Permanently Temporary War’ an Ephemera conference on the Trans-Siberian train (Moscow – Novosibirsk – Beijing, September 2005).
The last stop of the trip was Amsterdam’s notorious Bijlmermeer-development, a social housing neighborhood designed as a single project built up out of several, nearly identical high rise buildings. In 1986, Rem Koolhaas | OMA wrote a text about this area called “Las Vegas of the Welfare State” and in presented the Bijlmermeer Redevelopment-project.
A lot of information can be found on the plans, and redevelopment schemes, for the Bijlmermeer. The LOT-website offers a summarized version of history of the Bijlmermeer:
Despite harsh criticism, Rem Koolhaas was one of the few to see the potential of the Bijlmer, even if it was more of a symbolic nature: “What Las Vegas is to late capitalism, Bijlmer is to the welfare state.” The Bijlmer came to the media’s attention in 1992 when an El Al Boeing 747 crashed into the blocks of houses.
An extensive history was published in 1992 by Anne Luijten in Archis. In “A barrel of contradictions | The dynamic history of the Bijlmermeer” the author offers a background about to the zoning regulations, changing jurisdiction and responsibilities that have made the area for decades float in-between displacement, destruction, cultural tensions and architectural shock and awe.
A couple of longer pieces have been written about the plans and analysis that were developed in the 1980s by Rem Koolhaas | OMA. A short study about Rem Koolhaas / S,M,L,XL gives an insight in several urban schemes for Amsterdam and Paris in the 1980s. The text quotes a terrific example of Koolhaas’ critical-elusive thinking on the subject: “The Bijlmer offers boredom on a heroic scale. In its monotony, harshness, and even brutality, it is, ironically, refreshing.”
The “Design for the renewal of the Bijlmer Park”-publication was commissioned by Municipality of Amsterdam Southeast in 2007 and gives an overview of the design by Mecanoo Architects (winners design competition Bijlmer Park 2003). In the project proposal the architects state their idea is a development of following Koolhaas-analysis:
As early as 1986, Rem Koolhaas stated that it was the homogeneity of the ground level that had to be dealt with. He lamented the fact that urban life for 50,000 people had been reduced to such innocent activities as taking a walk, dabbling their toes in a pond or fishing.
A couple of snapshots of the present state.
Pictures by movingcities.org