CITY BREATHS

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Between-Space Used to Refresh Amsterdam’s Historic Canal Area

There’s always more than you see at first sight when you look at a city. There’s always the hidden, the invisible, the stuffed away, and the things that take more effort to get to know.

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The possible Between-spaces in Amsterdam’s Unesco-area (by Non-Fiction).

That’s what a group of Amsterdam-based curators and designers thought as well. In the project Between-space (“Tussen-ruimte”), Non-Fiction, Office Jarrik Ouborg, TAAK and Castrum Peregrini Foundation take the less-obvious as their starting point.

For the project, they have identified 30 to 40 un(der)used and mostly closed off spaces within the historic canal ring area, which has been appointed Unesco World Heritage in 2010. 

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The alleys between canal houses, potential Between-spaces (by Non-Fiction).

I think the concept is brilliant. It plays with the tension surrounding the fact that a heavily used urban area has been classified as World Heritage. Some people argue it will be impossible to do anything with it other than preservation. Others are afraid that the area will turn into an open-air museum or a ‘Disneyfied’ urban landscape.

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Artist’s impression of the canal area turned into a theme park (by Gijs Kast).

"Between-space" however, argues the contrary. It shows that there is still space for interventions, additions, design experiments and artistic interpretations. They want to create ‘micro public spaces’ in the overlooked, invisible and underused pockets of the canal area.

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Possible functions for the Between-spaces (by Office Jarrik Ouborg).

A wide range of activities and functions can be thought of for these Between-spaces. The initiators mention that it can go from small space for silent contemplation (which I think would be a wonderful thing, right in the middle of the city) and small stages for performances to sports activities and exhibition spaces. The project is currently being developed.

In the summer, there will be an exhibition at Castrum Peregrini. Simultaneously, interventions will take place, adding small functions to the inner city preservation area. Stay tuned.

There’s a full explanation of the project and the underlying inspirations and motivations on Non-Fiction’s website.

Filed under temporary use underuse historical heritage urbanism

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