How do you give new meaning to a place that has lost its connection with the neighbourhood? When shopping centre Amsterdamse Poort opened in 1987 in the Bijlmer neighbourhood, it was ahead of its time. Amsterdamse Poort was as diverse as the 130-plus cultures, different generations and diverse lifestyles that make up the melting pot of this district. But over the years, the Amsterdamse Poort has lost its soul a little. Residents say: ‘We have lost our passion for the Poort.’
Amsterdamse Poort is undergoing a large-scale transformation in the coming years. As part of one of the largest area developments in the Netherlands, this single-function shopping centre in Amsterdam Zuidoost is developing into a complete city centre. Property owner CBRE IM asked us to help them through this major transition and to involve everyone in the process.
Our biggest challenge is to ensure that the Amsterdamse Poort remains characteristic of Southeast and once again becomes a place where everyone feels at home. Current residents, entrepreneurs and visitors, but also the people who will live in the neighbourhood in the future and the employees of the businesses that will settle in the area.
A good place is created together. That is exactly why we cooperate not only with owner CBRE IM, manager CBRE, developer 3W and the municipality of Amsterdam, but also with local entrepreneurs, residents, social initiatives and culture makers and creatives from Southeast. Because Amsterdamse Poort has to become a place by and for everyone the input of these ‘community experts’ is essential. Every day, we let ourselves be guided by the joint ambition we have established with all stakeholders: Amsterdamse Poort will grow into the heart of Southeast. And in doing so, we prefer to do rather than just think and talk. Place branding, placemaking and participation come together seamlessly in placetesting.
With this experimenting and organic development, we try out new concepts and initiatives – on a temporary basis – with the intention of giving them a permanent place if they prove successful. For Amsterdamse Poort, we developed a vision and strategy for placemaking and placetesting. We then happily leave the implementation to Southeast itself. After all, Southeast is bursting with creativity, enterprise and talent. Different generations are given a voice in the future of the Poort.
Together, we not only test new concepts and additional functions, but also evening programming and better use of public space. This is how we learn what works and what doesn’t work in the Amsterdamse Poort. And as we do so, we keep reaching new target groups. One of the placetests was Streets of Prospects in collaboration with Angelo Bromet.
This project is ‘work in progress’. We currently have several place tests running with different cultural parties, talented entrepreneurs and social organisations. In many cases, these tests lead to long-term collaborations and a permanent establishment of the entrepreneur in question in Amsterdamse Poort. Slowly, ‘the passion for the Poort’ returns. And as a bonus, even during the transformation it remains lively and typically Southeast in the Poort.
Photos: Randy Da Costa, Coco Ulakunie, Jonna Bruinsma