The introduction week is now done and dusted; inspirational speeches, elevator pitches, like-minded people and heated discussions have all made my city-making senses tingling. It’s about time I met the rest of the Buiksloterham enthusiasts! The meeting is at De Ceuvel; I’m half an hour late, my Thesis just kept stalking me. After sneaking through the door, I cannot avoid introducing myself to everyone at the house! Christel and Bernadette- our coordinators, Tycho- representative of the culture of De Ceuvel, Frank Alsema- ambassador of the spirit and vision of the Amsterdamse Noord and last but not least, bright young minds and hungry hearts of my fellow group-mates. Certainly, a pleasure to meet you all! Now let’s go make an impact!
Lesson no.1: The past, present future of De Ceuvel
Taking us for a walk around, Tycho Hellinga is here to give us some great insights and explanations about the history of the project, the technology behind it and the vision of the parties involved. De Ceuvel is placed on top of an abandoned industrial shipyard; literally on top, as the soil is too contaminated for people to walk! The municipality of Amsterdam, wanting to give life to its North territory, decided to give a 10-year free use of the area to whoever came up with the best idea about how to use that space!
The result? A sustainable self-sufficient business park, which consists of old houseboats –with PV panels- and a beautiful elevated wooden path which snakes past and between them! In a place where plants never used to grow, they are now used to clean the soil and filter human waste! Besides the business-park, home for numerous start-up companies, there is also the well-known Café de Ceuvel; a spin-off of the original project, which is open for everyone and has become a hotspot for Amsterdammers, due to its alternative character and strictly organic and local products!
And the best thing? It’s all managed by the very community of entrepreneurs who work there!
Lesson no.2: Welcome in Buiksloterham
Buiksloterman is no playground; at least not yet. Beauty comes in different shapes and packages and this one is without any wrapping paper or fancy ribbons. But there’s a different beauty in this area and a Berlin-like “smell”; the smell of raw reality and hope. This is a perfect birthplace for extraordinary ideas… Frank Alsema takes us for a ride and makes sure we see as much creative spark as possible, between old warehouses and new logistics companies. New concepts and sustainable styles of housing, from community initiatives to ambitious masterplans; new parks and green areas, which relpaced the… nothing that was previously there! Buiksloterham is growing, Buiksloterham is hip. And we get to work, right here!
Back at café De Ceuvel, where we will now discuss our potential contributions. Works of art, new community management concepts, event organization, sustainable technology and entrepreneurial approaches; everything is possible!
But Tycho and Frank do have a message: Try to bring the local community together; create awareness, engagement, communication. Connect Buiksloterham to its neighbours, so it will get connected to the world! And the world has to know…
Dear Tycho and Frank. That’s why we’re here for.
We will surely do our best.