West of the A10 motorway in Amsterdam lie the Western Horticulture Cities, laid out according to the General Expansion Plan (AUP) of 1928. What is remarkable about the AUP is that it determined how Amsterdam was to develop and was implemented almost exactly as planned.
The Western Horticulture Cities are characterised by broad avenues, waterways, open space, and dwellings in green surroundings. Tall blocks of flats, dwellings with shared entrance halls and stairways, and houses with gardens predominate. Open building blocks are a common feature. Despite the ostensibly idyllic layout, the garden suburbs no longer meet current standards.
For the first time in 65 years, therefore, the AUP is up for renewal, prompted by the area’s changing regional position and the large-scale restructuring taking place there. The task is sizeable: a quarter of the existing stock of 41,000 rental dwellings will be demolished and replaced by privately owned homes. In addition, 11,000 dwellings will be built.
Social and economic renewal will lead to new programmes, and improving public space is a priority. An urban- rather than garden-suburb character has been opted for. One important question is: just how broadly can, and should, the AUP be interpreted?
Renovating the Western Garden Suburbs forms one of the largest renewal projects facing Amsterdam over the coming years. Bureau Parkstad, a collaborative office uniting local boroughs and the city authorities, will determine the physical effects of the renewal operation, and it has already set the tone in various ways in similar renewal projects both in and around Amsterdam.