The North-South metro line is slated to change Amsterdam in many significant ways. It is the first metro in the city that will move people on the 9.2km axis and under the Ij river, to Amsterdam Central Station, and then on to Amsterdam Zuid Station. Zuid Station could potentially become the major transportation hub in the city, over Central Station. The line will run every 4 minutes in the day and every 10 minutes at night, with about 180.000 passengers per day. The €3.1 billion project has had several set-backs, budget adjustments, and delays. It is now slated for completion in 2017.

source: www.railway-technology.com/projects/ns_metro/
source: http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/ns_metro/

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What does this project have to do with the city at eye level?

Our assignment was to analyse the plinths in the area around the future metro stop at Ceintuurban, located in the vibrant neighborhood called De Pijp. De Pijp has a long history of being Amsterdam’s “Latin Quarter” and a melting pot of cultures and people. More recently, the neighborhood has begun the gentrification (and hipster-cation) process and more young and established professionals are moving into the area, which is undoubtedly changing the fabric of the neighborhood.

Our preliminary analysis, as usual, consisted of personal, one-on-one key stakeholder interviews from all types of fields in the area: shop owners, residents, developers, street managers, municipal officials, and users of the area. These are the people involved with De Pijp at eye level. It is important to get a well-rounded understanding of the current situation in order proceed with any further physical or social analyses of the plinths.

The analysis built up to an intensive, one-day “game” with about 40 other stakeholders. For the game, we used our Spider Graph method to assess the current plinths. This method is useful for identifying the priority areas among a host of criteria regarding the buildings, street, and context of the area (laid out in the book). It is also useful for identifying the “quick-wins” (easy solutions) and the longer-term gains.

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Right now, the plinths show the character of a diverse, multi-cultural neighborhood. Their design (or lack of) vary from cozy, organic feel to a stoic or tousled look. The variation can be charming and offers a ‘real’ neighborhood vibe. De Pijp also has a strong sense of local entrepreneurship, clearly visible in its plinths. Ferdinand Bolstraat, a main commercial street that crosses with Ceintuurbaan, has a good mix local shops and small and larger chains. The smaller streets that branch off from Ferdinand Bolstraat boast a number of high-quality local shops, cafe’s, and restaurants. On these streets, there are also a number of local artisans who are part of the network “Ambachten de Pijp” (Made in de Pijp).

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So, what are the impacts of a new metro line on this neighborhood’s plinths? In terms of design, function and programming?

The Ceintuurbaan metro stop expects to bring in about an extra 40.000 people per day to the area (about the population of the neighborhood itself!). We believe that a coalition of stakeholders must be formed (soon) in order to maintain the character of de Pijp. Large developers and investors are licking their chops at this type of opportunity and are waiting for the perfect time to make their proposals.

Our main questions to the group were: what should be cherished on these streets, what could disappear, how will those things happen and who will take responsibility and initiative to see to it?

Stay tuned for the results.

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