Share:
Ziel van een Stad Ziel van een Stad

The soul of a City

Elsbeth Quispel • 24/09/2020
Now that I have lived in the city for 17 years, I call myself an Amsterdammer; thanks to and despite all the changes in recent years, a city that gives me energy, I enjoy living with my family and have the luxury of going to the office by bike every day. But how come I really feel like an Amsterdammer?

Cities are always on the move. I doubt it is always in the right direction. A city should in any case have a vision; about who and what it wants to be for its residents, the business community, its visitors and tourists, now and in the future. In Jane Jacobs 'The Death and Life of Great American Cities' she argues that a city is a vibrant community of great complexity; a large space without parts where you do not want to go, where functions are mixed and reinforce each other. This is in contrast to uber-modernist Le Corbusier with his Charte d'Athenes from 1943; the city as a machine: cities with industrially manufactured residential towers in parks that can be multiplied neutrally and endlessly all over the world. Just like the French banlieues in the 1950s and 1960s and Shanghai have developed in recent decades. Here functions are separated and no longer support each other. Jacobs advocates a certain degree of messiness, creating connectedness and liveliness with busy streets and visited parks.

Rotterdam is an example of a city with a post-war Le Corbusier-like center (including the Lijnbaan since 1951) where living is separated from work during the reconstruction. As a result, it is now difficult to create a connection between areas. At the time, residents were drawn to so-called growth centers such as Zoetermeer, Lelystad and Almere, driven in part by the Notes on Spatial Planning, the deterioration of inner cities and the cheaper cars. Suburbs and suburbs were (and are) often set up on a large scale with a lack of a good mix of functions, such as good facilities in a residential area. As a result, these places are used too organized, anonymously and soulless.

Another example is Utrecht, a city that has managed to recover from the sharp decline in its population after the loss of employment due to the departure of heavy industry in the 1970s and 1980s (Demka and Kraanspoor). Due to its university, highly desirable post-industrial employment has been created in Utrecht. This attracted ambitious people who have developed into a strong community; the social capital. From which a demand for culture and leisure arose, in its traditionally cluttered, monumental and lively city center. That attracts creativity and then employment.

For me, Amsterdam is, not entirely objectively, the city; has grown organically from a small harbor settlement to a city of international allure. A city that has certainly not always made the right choices in its existence in terms of urban development and policy and has exploded at the seams in recent decades, but is brimming with liveliness. However, we are faced with a major challenge here to ensure that living in the city remains affordable and thus retains its soul and that we all continue to feel like Amsterdammers.

What's Next: Value Of A City

This was the first part of the series. Read the other parts by clicking the links below.

This vision is based on internal research and dialogue with internal and external stakeholders, in close collaboration with consultants and analysts from our Real Estate Strategy & Innovation team. More background can be found in the eponymous Insight: The Soul Of A City (in Dutch).

Read more - Value Of A City

City profiler image card
Insights

City profiler

Today, we can better see urban policy makers as 'city profilers'. They must make the right connections to arrive at future-proof solutions for our cities in the coming decades.
Elsbeth Quispel • 27/05/2021
De stad na COVID
Insights • Sustainability

The city after COVID-19

COVID-19 shows our vulnerability. At the same time, it gives us insight into how we should improve the quality of life in our cities in a future-proof way. Anticipating population growth, climate change, health and our continuing need to live, work and stay in cities.
Elsbeth Quispel • 22/04/2021
De Randstad loopt leeg card
Insights

The Randstad is emptying out

The initial cause of this has everything to do with supply and demand. For years there has been a chronic shortage of affordable housing in the Randstad, the economic heart of the Netherlands. This applies to both starters in the buyers' market and middle incomes in the tenant market.
Elsbeth Quispel • 25/03/2021
Auto de stad uit card
Insights • Sustainability

City streets should not have cars

The arrival of the car has radically changed the spatial development of our cities and the infrastructure in the Netherlands.
In order to bring cars and freight traffic safely and quickly from A to B, highways and motorways, bridges and viaducts, traffic lights and pedestrian crossings were necessary.
Elsbeth Quispel • 25/02/2021
Groene steden
Insights • Sustainability

A city full of green is not valued enough

A green environment or fresh air is not often a reason to live in a city, rather the opposite. It is often a reason to escape the city at the weekend and visit nature, or even to live elsewhere.
Elsbeth Quispel • 04/02/2021
Ruimtelijke ordening
Insights

The future-proof city

The value of the city lies in its future-proofness. In order to be able to anticipate the needs of the time, vision and ambition are needed as guidelines for strategic area development.
Elsbeth Quispel • 09/12/2020
Ode aan de woningcorporaties
Insights

Ode to the housing association

We are faced with a major challenge to ensure that living in the city remains affordable and thus retains its soul and that we feel connected to the city in which we live.
Elsbeth Quispel • 12/11/2020
Whats Next artikel 2 card
Insights

Agglomeration benefits are not just about scale

The news that we will not be able to go to the office for the next few weeks is difficult for me. For me, the office is the place to work together on projects, to have meetings and to be able to work quietly, but also the place to catch up with colleagues and my team; something that gives me energy.
Elsbeth Quispel • 19/10/2020
Ziel van een stad
Insights

The soul of a City

Now that I have lived in the city for 17 years, I call myself an Amsterdammer; thanks to and despite all the changes in recent years, a city that gives me energy, I enjoy living with my family and have the luxury of going to the office by bike every day. But how come I really feel like an Amsterdammer?
Elsbeth Quispel • 24/09/2020
Rotterdam view, Netherlands
Research • Economy

Sweet Spot Randstad

Digitisation and sustainability will have enormous impact on society in The Netherlands. These trends will change the spatial layout of our country. How can we organise The Netherlands to maximise the benefits from this change?
Jos Hesselink • 26/06/2019
Haneda: From An Airport To An Aerotropolis
Insights

Staying relevant requires big thinking

“Good interconnection of urban regions in the Randstad is the best way to create an agglomeration advantage for our entire country. Only then can we take maximum advantage of the fourth industrial revolution.”
Jeroen Lokerse • 03/06/2019
Meeting-1-750x456
Insights • Economy

The Netherlands is missing out on opportunities

Business location criteria, will more than products or services, determine if organisations succeed or fail. The Netherlands must maintain its attractive position as the ‘gateway to Europe’ and businesses must establish themselves in locations with the best access to the labour market and working environments.
Jeroen Lokerse • 15/05/2019

CAN'T FIND WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR?

Get in touch with one of our professionals.