Bijlmer Park, Amsterdam
The Bijlmer area is the result of a large expansion of Amsterdam in the late Sixties and Seventies. The utopian modernism that underpinned the plans for the neighbourhood envisaged a metro system, a road network free of crossings, uniform thirteen-story housing blocks coupled with parking garages and extensive green space.
In practice, it delivered an unsafe neighbourhood with problems and an unforeseen multi-cultural population. Now re-branded as Amsterdam Zuidoost, the neighbourhood has been urged to provide a differentiated housing stock and to improve its management of the public realm. Part of this strategy is the transformation of the Bijlmerpark into a new urban park with 700 homes and six hectares of sports facilities. Mecanoo’s response to this brief has three main elements: the integration of housing within the landscape, clear boundaries and entrances to the park and an intensification of activities.
Undulating strips of individual homes and apartments define the edges of the park. The park was elevated 60cm to mitigate the dampness of lower lying areas. The Bijlmer Tree Edge is the transition between the park and residences - a fence made of trees stripped of their bark and placed on steel legs. The Bijlmerpark has seven classic main entrances that are characterised by three vertical gates that always remain open on either side of a horizontal gateway. “Bijlmerpark” is written in ironwork on the vertical gates, and the horizontal gateways have names that refer to the surrounding neighbourhoods. Just by these gates alone, the Bijlmerpark is set apart from the other city parks.
The Bijlmer Paths wind like elegant ribbons through Bijlmerpark and connect the 'cultural' northern part of the park with the natural, ecological southern part. They pass by - and even under - the Karspeldreef, occasionally intertwining themselves with the sidewalks. Bijlmerpark features a range of distinctive trees like the giant sequoia and fields of flowering Magnolias. In Bijlmerpark you can see and smell every season. The rolling parkland, together with the variety of plantings, creates an experience in all seasons.
Playing fields for organised sports are located in the middle of the park. These artificial grass and turf fields are somewhat hidden from the houses by trees placed around them. There many other attractions within the park along three different esplanades, the Sports and Game esplanade, the Tribune esplanade and the Nature Esplanade, which all have their own identity and function.
The southern part of the park is a nature park with plenty of water features, large fields with colourful plants, several bridges and banks and a deck over the water. There is also a 7-metre high hill covered with butterfly bushes, from which you can see the sun’s path through the Bijlmerpark. There are also plans to create an arboretum above the Karspelsedreef.