Sloterdijk gives you courage

Sloterdijk is so much more than wheeled suitcases and FlixBuses. VERTICAL is bringing an entirely new living climate to Amsterdam. Serial entrepreneur Peter Maasdam has been observing 5 years of change at Sloterdijk.



Each area has its pioneers. Those who moved in before the masses. And among Sloterdijk's pioneers is Peter Maasdam (56). A man just as colourful as his paintings. In the Amsterdam Art Center he combines his art lending library with a meeting centre. In the corner of a huge warehouse on Donauweg there is also a picture framing business. Because art deserves to be well displayed.


‘We moved around five years ago’, says Peter as he shows us around.. ‘From Houthavens, a little further up the road, to here. The crisis forced us to move. But as soon as I walked into this building I was immediately smitten. ‘What You See Is What You Get’ here. A place with huge potential.’ He laughs. ‘You only need to look at it. In the first year we completely stripped the building, then put it all back together with a new layout.’ The building now accommodates more than 15,000 artworks, 14 meeting rooms, a cooking studio, 20 staff and one DJ set. ‘When I have a moment I’ll spin some records. Just for fun.’

Browsing through the records: 'Look! Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft, how cool is that!' Pioneers together.


An artist starts a meeting centre; a strange combination at first sight. How did it come about? ‘I rented an empty building and brought my old art lending library here. That was the basis of the plan. But immediately it opened up new possibilities, just as a plain canvas and paint create a third reality.’

It was serendipity: a happy discovery quite by chance.

‘What we found was that this environment, a building full of art, makes people happy and inspires them. And the same happens at meetings, training sessions and workshops. That’s where the power lies, in this mix of enterprise and creativity. Here at AAC everything mixes together. The fun is when people feel they are visiting an up-and-running business. That creates its own energy and can really inspire you.’


Peter knows the city as only a real Amsterdammer can. He grew up in Bos & Lommer and has lived in various places in the city. At the time, however, Sloterdijk was mostly a blind spot. But things have changed now. ‘What’s great here is not everything is built over and finished yet. There is still space for new plans.’ What’s also nice is that the area does not have the pretensions of somewhere like the Zuidas. ‘Sloterdijk has given me the courage to run a business. It gave me a safe landing following the crisis and the opportunity to develop my ambitions. And once things start moving, you become even braver. You take on a new office wing, create a car park, start new initiatives. You start growing again.’

'As soon as I walked into this building I was immediately smitten.'

Amsterdam Art Center now accommodates more than 15,000 artworks.


Time to go outside. ‘A lot is going to happen here’, says Peter enthusiastically. ‘The area will become increasingly diverse, not least thanks to a better mix of living and working. ‘You won’t recognize it in 5 to 10 years’ time!’

‘I hope that the area will retain its rough, somewhat crazy character. That there will still be space for the unknown. The great thing is that the people coming here can make their own contribution to the development of the area. Here in Sloterdijk you can still be involved in defining the atmosphere.’