cultural bazaar

Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan city and has great popularity around the world. It is the third most visited city of Europe.  The city has about 177 nationalities and is therefore the most multicultural city in the world. A place for everyone you can say. Unfortunately this applies to less to the office industry at this time. Amsterdam has to do with a huge vacancy. Approximately 17% of the offices in the capital are empty and that equates to approximately 1.3 million square meters, of which about half structurally empty. This is partly due to the crisis, on the other hand also to the high intensity which in the 90’s office buildings were built and thus the supply exceeded the demand of office space. No matter what the exact reason is, it certainly has a negative impact on the city. Both for businesspeople/investors and tourists who for example are treated with a sight of empty buildings showing “FOR RENT” signs.

Besides the void in office buildings, Amsterdam also has to do with a void in cultural understanding. Despite the 177 nationalities in the city, we only see -besides from the local cultural shops- very little of this cultural aspect. What we do see is of multiculturalism is often the negative publicity of the ethnic people who do not honor the real culture. New York for instance, has places like Chinatown and Little Italy witch are little concentrated cultural areas. Small areas in the city where the culture is not only for sale in products, but is actually lived. A lifelike museum you could call it.

Cultural District Amsterdam is a possible solution to two problems or rather called challenges. Inspired by the Oriental Bazaar / Souk, Cultural District Amsterdam consists of bazaars containing different cultures all chained together. An ongoing route through the area from shop to market, from culture to culture. A flexible structure where both small and larger businesses can practice their cultural speciality. From a personal fascination, the link with the bazaar and the actuality, Little Morocco as a starting point adopted for Cultural District Amsterdam. A new place in existing Amsterdam, where the Moroccan culture is re-introduced. Amsterdam, the Netherlands and visitors can learn about what this culture really has to offer in the form of art, food, craftsmanship and more. First Morocco, then Italy, Turkey and more great cultures represented in Amsterdam.

On the one hand, this Cultural District only fils part of the vacant buildings, but on the other hand it has great impact on the surrounding areas witch will profit of this cultural intervention. The mono functional character of the area will be transformed into a multifunctional character where all day activity. One area in Amsterdam where many cultures come together. Both ethnic cultures and working cultures.

This project was part of my master program at the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture. I was mentored by Gianni Cito (MOKE architects) and Hanneke Kijne (HOSPER).