05.03.18

Undiscovered attracts

He has seen Bos en Lommer totally transformed in recent years. Community builder Lex de Jong has given the neighbourhood a new face with BoLoBoost. Now it’s the turn of ‘undiscovered’ Sloterdijk.

 

VERTICAL STORIES

For Lex, these are the pearls of the city. Neighbourhoods that the outside world sees very differently to how they actually are. 'It's then that you know that something's wrong with the perception, and that's what gives me energy. With our online and offline BoLoBoost community we went out to gather stories from Bos en Lommer. That attracted people. The neighbourhood developed its own appeal. And you see the result as you cycle through the neighbourhood.'

Three years ago Lex started up the Sloterdijk Stad community. ‘During a meeting I heard about the developments in Sloterdijk, and someone asked what the area needs to make it a good place to live. An exciting task for Amsterdam, because Sloterdijk doesn’t feel like Amsterdam at all. The former Teleport district is being transformed from a monofunctional area into a fully-fledged neighbourhood with an urban feel. I want to help this process along with this community.’

Lex de Jong

Placemaking

Walking through Sloterdijk, Lex points out the initiatives that are already underway in Sloterdijk. He himself lives around the corner and keeps a close eye on what is going on in Sloterdijk. ‘I want to show the outside world that Sloterdijk is a very interesting place. It is an undervalued part of the city with a huge amount of potential. We started here with a neighbourhood community without any residents, because there just aren’t many people living here yet. So we have to see how we can work together with local businesses to make the place ‘liveable’.

At the end of 2017 we got together one day with local entrepreneurs, residents, passers-by and local officials to explore the neighbourhood. We asked ourselves the question: What is needed to improve the liveability of the area? That involves more than just the signing or a street bench. It involves large and small initiatives with different budgets. Initiatives that reinforce each other’s interests. That improve the neighbourhood. BRET and the Tuin van BRET are good examples of this, as is Ven Amsterdam. Ven has transformed the KPN office into a location with a hotel, casino, fitness centre, conference space, hospitality facilities and a rooftop bar. All this will certainly attract new people. Okay, it’s not exactly buzzing at the moment, but all this new activity is a good start.’

BRET
Ven Amsterdam

Crowd puller

Sloterdijk also needs more restaurants, cafes and bars to hang out in during the evening. ‘I also want to see a big crowd puller here. Let’s create, for example, a large depot museum of several Amsterdam museums in an empty office building. It would be great if Sloterdijk has something that draws people in for longer. Not only tourists, but also residents and those working here. Sloterdijk is now a genuine hub location. Its accessibility is great, but it’s still a place where people don’t stay very long.”

Home base

‘For the first people to come and live in Sloterdijk, the area will have a great feel as a home base, a place from which you can quickly get to your work, for example. But these people also want to meet up with friends in the neighbourhood for a beer or something to eat, preferably at a cool place where you want to go to more often. You will see these kinds of functions gradually moving in, because that’s simply how things work once businesses find out that thousands of new homes are to be built here. The important thing, though, is that we bring in the right functions, and that is where I want to make a contribution.’

Amsterdam Sloterdijk Station. The VERTICAL location is behind the Mercure Hotel (brown facade).

From creating the environment to living in it

Genuine liveliness will only happen once people come to live here. It’s that simple. In a pleasant environment with attractive, open green spaces. Our role is to take it further, from creating the environment to living in it. Imagine, for example, the programming of events, the design of public squares and encouraging initiatives in the neighbourhood. I also hope that the new housing projects won’t simply become little communities in themselves, as that would be fatal for the liveability of the area. At VERTICAL you see that this has already been carefully thought about in the design. It will be a place where the outside is brought inside. A place to go to.