Amsterdam West

In the Netherlands, urban problems have been the centre of the policy attention for decades and have been addressed with different spatial approaches in the course of time. One of the recent urban policies introduced in 1994 called ‘Big City Policy’, its main goal is to fighting homogeneity of low income / immigrant population living in the same area.
In the Dutch political discourse, areas with large concentrations of immigrant population have become synonymous of areas with persistent social-economic problems that suffer from economic, cultural and political backwardness and lack of social cohesion. Therefore, specific urban policies have been put in place to (dis)solve it.
The proposed strategy, which goes under the slogan of ‘mixed neighborhoods’, aims at counter balance the concentration of poor households in some areas of the city and attracting more middle and higher income people to the problematic areas. However, this appealing upgrading areas idea using the ‘injection of middle class’ come across with a big side effect. It creates a massive displacement as such it “solves the problem” in one area by imposing it on another one.

The implementation of ‘renewal’ policies in poor areas forces displacement of a large section of the weak socioeconomic population group. This phenomenon is theoretically and practically unavoidable because alternative accommodation cannot be offered to everybody in the same area due to programmatic choices of the policy makers. These considerations lead to reflect on this paradox: urban renewal policies may have the effect of institutionalizing the very situation it was designed to improve, namely the opportunity of strengthening the socioeconomically situation of the weaker stratum of the population.


The project by FAST: Daniela Bellelli and Malkit Shoshan; BAVAVLA: Bas van Vlaenderen; and One Architecture: Matthijs Bouw