Monday, May 30, 2016

IJberg, FabCity and modern Amsterdam

I first visited IJberg on my Netherlands tour and wanted to return, if only to see this floating home development. IJberg is a new town, a 30 minute bicycle ride from the city centre. I have written a column for the Vancouver Sun about some of the innovations with application to Vancouver, including these floating homes and street rowhouses with laneway houses.

FabCity is a temporary sustainability exhibition that was set up in conjunction with Netherlands' serving as the European Capital for the first 6 months of 2016. Located on Java Island in the city’s Eastern Harbour District, it includes approximately 50 innovative pavilions, where students, professionals, artists and creatives are working on finding solutions to urban issues. I was impressed with the container housing solutions; a machine that makes houses out of cardboard (and other materials); a 3-D printer that makes concrete; and some other displays. While parts seemed a bit 'amateurish' it is well worth a visit.
One sustainability fair that is not worth bothering with is de Ceuvel. While promoted as the most innovative sustainability community in Europe, it isn't. Not at all. But we had an interesting lunch there, once we found the place. Don't bother!
Walking around the city I was very impressed with much of the new architecture. Some questions however: why are so many buildings so boxy, with no roof overhangs or weather protection at street level? Is the enforcement of the height limits just a bit too rigid? It's quite astonishing to see long rows of buildings, many of spectacular design, but all at exactly the same height. That being said, I do think Vancouver can learn from Amsterdam's modern architecture, especially the manner in which the old and new are brought together.
Here are some more pictures.

A sign in the window of a design firm along the waterfront. I think it's called 'OY'!


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