Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht. February 6, 2012.
ALL THE EXTRA PUBLIC SPACE!
and Amsterdam’s huge temporary pedestrian infrastructure
The cover of snow and the exceptional icy cold seem to have a damping effect on Amsterdam. Most people who usually cycle or walk around the city, now take the tram or stay at home. There is less traffic. There is less sound, less circulation and less buzzing. But the sun is shining and the air is crisp clear, so I walked for some three hours through a freezing oasis. Until I crossed the canals, which are suddenly swarming with people. They are ice skating, playing with their kids and walking their dogs on the city’s transient extra space. It seems kind of surreal, as if this is something that only happens on old paintings by Rembrandt and his contemporaries. But it’s not. It is interesting to see how people take advantage of the opportunity and use these sudden extra amount of public space. Actually, considering the fact that Amsterdam is built around an extensive, centuries-old water infrastructure, this all of a sudden gives you a whole new way of experiencing the city: from below. Go and try it!