Amsterdam West

The Netherlands has been addressing urban issues for decades through various spatial approaches. One of the recent urban policies, introduced in 1994, is the ‘Big City Policy’, aimed at combating the homogeneity of low-income and immigrant populations living in the same area.

In Dutch political discourse, areas with high concentrations of immigrant populations are associated with persistent socio-economic problems, including economic, cultural, and political backwardness, as well as a lack of social cohesion. Specific urban policies have been implemented to address these issues.

The proposed strategy, known as ‘mixed neighborhoods’, seeks to reduce the concentration of low-income households in certain areas by attracting more middle and higher-income residents. However, this idea of upgrading areas by injecting a middle-class population has a major drawback: it leads to significant displacement, essentially “solving” the problem in one area by transferring it to another.

The implementation of ‘renewal’ policies in impoverished areas often results in the displacement of a large portion of the socioeconomically vulnerable population. This phenomenon is unavoidable due to the programmatic choices made by policymakers, as it is not feasible to offer alternative accommodation to everyone in the same area. Consequently, these considerations raise concerns about the paradoxical nature of urban renewal policies, which may unintentionally institutionalize the very problems they were designed to alleviate, thereby hindering the socioeconomic situation of the vulnerable population.

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