COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space

Placemaking Week 2017: Hello, Amsterdam!

Annah MacKenzie
Oct 11, 2017
Dec 22, 2017

PPS has touched down in the beautiful Dutch capital, and now that we’ve gotten our biking legs stretched, our Stroopwafel fix taken care of, and our canal-envy curbed, we’re ready to take on the rest of the exciting events and activities lined up for Placemaking Week 2017!

The panels and presentations at Pakhuis de Zwijger—which will cover everything from health and sustainability, to innovation and urban equity—officially begin Thursday morning, though we’ve already had a jam-packed few days of placemaking adventures in and around Amsterdam.

On Tuesday, ­­­conference participants ventured to different areas throughout the city to perform public space evaluations in one of six strategic locations for future growth in Amsterdam over the next 20 years: at a local hostel/urban farm/art space/cultural hub called Broedplaats WOW; in an Amsterdam Noord neighborhood; at the Sloterdijk transit station; at a market in the Reigerbos area of Amsterdam Zuidoost; at the Sloterplas lake area in the West of Amsterdam; and at the innovative Zuidas district.

‍Conducting the Place Game in the garden area of WOW.

In each of these activities, organized by STIPO, conference participants collaborated with local stakeholders in using the Place Game—a community-based tool that PPS developed nearly two decades ago as a way to generate ideas about how to improve or enhance a public space based on observations of how people are, or are not, using it. The exercise gave visitors from around the world the opportunity to learn about and explore the potential of an area they may not have otherwise considered, while it also encouraged local stakeholders and residents to see their space anew and to fully explore its short and long-term placemaking possibilities with some of the best place lovers in the business!

‍Scene from last night's Pitch Session of Boiling Amsterdam | Image via What's Boiling

Last night some of us also attended an innovative live crowdfunding event for placemakers called “Boiling Amsterdam.” Here’s the basics: Four creative placemakers pitch their ideas to the audience, each of whom have paid an entry fee of €10, which buys them a bowl of soup and a vote. The winner then takes home all the donations (and the total is doubled by partners) to get started on their project. They don’t have to make a project or budget plan, in fact the only thing they must do in return is to give a presentation at the next Pitch Night about how they used the cash and advice. Those of us who went to “Boiling” were amazed by this trust-based crowdfunding model, and we’re already buzzing about how it could be adapted to other cities.

While all that was happening, some of us were out cruising the city on these wooden bikes for a whirlwind tour of local placemaking projects with our friends at Placemaking Plus. (For the record: I’m so proud of our little bike brigade…cycling in Amsterdam is exhilarating, practical, and not always for the faint of heart!)

Some of the wOOdy crew soaking up some knowledge from our intrepid tour guide, Stan.

Wednesday was also full of workshops and tours throughout Amsterdam, though many conference-goers also attended City Expeditions—day-long tours to various Dutch cities to learn about local placemaking efforts and urban issues through interactive workshops and discussions. With tours to Almere, Delft, Dordrecht, Haarlem, Rotterdam, the Hague, Tilburg, Utrecht, and Zwolle, we’ve seen how each of these cities has gone to admirable lengths to create a better human-scale city, or a “city at eye level,” but they also face unique challenges that various aspects of the placemaking process can help them to address.

‍From a shipyard to a sustainability hub: Checking out the urban experiments at De Ceuvel in Amsterdam Noord.

We've already met so many new collaborators and friends, and as 400+ attendees from 46 countries gather this week in this truly inspiring, creative, and generous city, it's clear that this is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more updates, as the core conference kicks off early tomorrow (Thursday) morning. Follow the action along with us on Twitter (#PlacemakingWeek), and be sure to tune in LIVE to Placemaking Week's Livestream. We'll have a camera on the main stage of Pakhuis de Zwijger, so you can watch the plenaries alongside conference participants.

‍The Delft City Expedition is on the move--touring the old city, the student city, and the living city by bike 

More to come, but in the meantime, Happy Placemaking Week, everyone!


Annah MacKenzie
Annah MacKenzie
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COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space