Delivering Better Places in Scotland: A guide to learning from broader experience

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Case Study 5: IJburg Amsterdam, The Netherlands

1. Development opportunity

Amsterdam city has a long and distinguished tradition of urban planning and development. Constructed on a series of seven artificial islands on Lake IJmeer on the city's eastern side, IJburg is Amsterdam's new residential district and has been built entirely from scratch. Land, street layouts, buildings and all other components of a complete urban district have been developed in less than ten years on what had previously been the seabed. Previously isolated, the district is now about 15-20 minutes by express tram for Amsterdam city centre. When complete, it will house 45,000 people in 18,000 dwellings. A deceptively simple new district - an example of the 'good ordinary' - it already feels like other neighbourhoods of Amsterdam, while having the benefits of new buildings and infrastructure.

Amsterdam's potential for expansion is limited. The city is surrounded by restricted areas - by areas of natural, historic or cultural value and the approaches to Schipol airport - and cannot expand in any other direction. The east side, where IJburg sits, has been described as the city's 'last ever' expansion.

The project is well advanced, with Phase I approximately 75% complete. Phase I consists of two main islands - Steigereiland (Jetty Island) and Haveneiland (Harbour Island) - and a set of three smaller islands, known collectively as Rieteiland (Reed Islands) and consisting of Groot Rieteiland, Kleine Rieteiland, and Rieteiland Oost. Phase II consists of a further four islands. photo

Lake IJmeer was first considered as a place to expand Amsterdam in 1965, when architects/urban planners Van den Broek and Bakema presented a celebrated scheme - 'City-on-Pampus' - for a linear city there. The Municipality's 1973 Third Report on Spatial Planning (revised 1977) - in effect the City Plan - raised the idea of a medium-density residential area on the IJmeer. In November 1981, the Potential Locations for New Construction report by Dienst Ruimtelijke Ordening (DRO - the City Planning Department), again identified Ijmeer as a location for expansion. In the mid-1980s, plans were developed for what was termed Nieuw Oost (New East - renamed IJburg in 1995). As importantly, the 1980s and 1990s saw an urban renaissance in Amsterdam and a rediscovery of city living, with the redevelopment of urban areas such as the Eastern Docklands. The City's Fourth Report on Spatial Planning (1988) again identified IJmeer Lake as a possible location for future growth as part of spatial development framework for Amsterdam through to 2015.

What made IJburg a reality was the VINEX programme - an abbreviation of 'Vierde Nota Ruimtelijke Ordening Extra': the fourth Dutch Ten Year Housing Programme (1996-2005) and also a supplementary document to the 1990 Fourth National Policy (in effect, the Dutch National Planning Framework). VINEX was an ambitious programme. Between 1995 and 2005, it proposed to address the housing shortage by building high quality, high density (over 30 dwellings per hectare), neighbourhoods, well-connected by public transport to jobs and services, and with at least 30% of the housing being affordable. Over a ten year period, it produced some 90 urban extensions and increased the nation's housing stock by almost 8% - adding a further 455,000 new homes.

The 1993 VINEX plan identified possible locations for housing development. Nieuw-Oost, as IJburg was then known, was included among them. At about the same time, the Amsterdam Regional Conference determined that between 1995 and 2005 the city needed a further 100,000 housing units in the Amsterdam region. Amsterdam was to build 36,000 units, including 18,000 in IJburg, with the other 64,000 units to be built in Almere region.

The VINEX programme put the onus on local authorities to submit bids for inclusion and, reviving the 1980s 'Nieuw Oost' plan, Amsterdam put IJburg forward. IJburg became an official VINEX location in the summer of 1994. Though the government provided seed capital to help in decontaminating land and providing infrastructure, the schemes had to be self-funding. Local authorities would also play the lead role in commissioning masterplans and providing infrastructure.

As a new district built on artificial land, IJburg was in the Dutch tradition of creating land to build on. The test project was launched 1994, when a 30,000m2 island was built to test the technical and financial feasibility of the land-creation method of depositing dredged sand. The test island was successful and now forms Noordbuurt, the northern part of Steigereiland. Surprisingly perhaps, compared to the costs of preparing and developing brownfield land, IJburg's land-creation element was considered to be comparatively good value for money.

Following the success of the test island, the Municipality of Amsterdam established Projectbureau IJburg in 1995, specifically to lead and champion IJburg's development, and in 1996 it gave its seal of approval to the construction of IJburg. The debate between those in favour of and those against IJburg's development led to a referendum in 1997. When it was deemed that there was insufficient opposition, IJburg was approved for development.

2. People and organisations

IJburg has been a corporate undertaking delivered by the Municipality of Amsterdam. Within the Municipality, the lead department is the Dienst Ruimtelijke Ordening ( DRO - Department of City Planning). More specifically, delivery has been lead by Projectbureau IJburg, a task-specific team at Amsterdam DRO.

It was also delivered within the support of a national framework for urban growth. Key National bodies involved in its development were the Ministry of Urban Affairs (which designated IJburg as VINEX location and encouraged its development) and the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (Ministry of VROM).

IJburg was not the child of a single person, but the result of collaboration between groups with different visions, priorities and interests. Consultations and cooperation between experts from various disciplines led to solutions and responses that were acceptable for as broad a group of the parties concerned as possible. A continued input from the public consultations shaped the outcome of the final place. There were also many meetings between a very wide range of stakeholders and the DRO.

Nonetheless, Ar Oskam (initially) and then Klaas de Boer (from 1997) were the administrative principals for IJburg on behalf of the municipality's aldermen, and thus effectively the place promoters. Frits Palmboom produced the initial urban design in 1996 and was later joined by Dirk Sijmons, of H+N+S Landscape Architects. Tineke Van Der Pol leads of the Urban Design Team at the DRO.

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IJburg involved an integrated planning process involving a larger number of public agencies in the design and planning process. This enabled the plan to be produced by a wide range of disciplines right from the start, and reduced the risk of isolated teams working alone.

Public sector bodies involved in delivering IJburg (all of whom have staff dedicated to work on full-time on the project) include:

  • Amsterdam Welfare Service ( DWA)
  • City Housing Department ( SWD)
  • Dienst Ruimtelijke Ordening ( DRO - Department of City Planning)
  • Engineering Agency Ingenieursbureau Amsterdam ( IBA) (in charge of the execution of the infrastructure work)
  • Environmental Services Department; the Department for Infrastructure, Traffic and Transportation ( dIVV) (the future operator of the main infrastructure and a number of bridges and locks)
  • Grondbedrijf (Amsterdam City Land Development Co) which functioned as the commissioning body for the land creation part of IJburg)
  • Municipal Administration Department
  • Omegam Research Institute (for environmental studies and soil mechanics)
  • Project Management Bureau (IJburg has been project managed by ProjectManagementBureau Amsterdam - an autonomous department owned by the Municipality of Amsterdam - which also project manages other major urban projects in Amsterdam such as the Zuidas, Zuidelijke IJ-oever, and Nieuwendam-Noord. PMB has expertise in guiding complex government decision-making processes.)
  • Water Management and Sewers Department ( DWR)
  • Zeeburg district, which has the day-to-day responsibility for managing IJburg. It also has a role in running the IJburg visitors centre and collaborating with the district's sales office, maintaining collaboration between the public and private sectors.

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3. The overall vision

3.1 Spatial development framework

"Islands make Amsterdam. Thanks to the water in and around the archipelago, IJburg has the potential to become the most interesting VINEX location in the Netherlands. But this is neither important or sufficient. It must become a fully-fledged district of Amsterdam, a regional attraction, interesting for residents, day-trippers and tourists as well as providing a good place to work. We will only know if it has succeeded 20 years from now." Tineke Van Der Pol, DRO, 2010

The IJburg place vision was one of an urban area that would feel like the 'real' Amsterdam, yet with the benefit of easy access to water and nature. The intention was also that as well as just being part of Amsterdam, the new district should also add something to Amsterdam. The design would also have to be ecologically sensitive - a 'guest-in-the-water'. Involving extensive earthworks on the edge of a nature reserve, the IJburg project was controversial. It proponents argued that the negative effects could be mitigated by a sympathetic approach to nature. The idea was also to have nature closely intertwined with the development; water and open space now feature prominently in IJburg.

The spatial development framework for IJburg proceeded alongside community engagement. Published in May 1996, Frits Palmboom and Jaap Van den Bout's initial Design for IJburg was approved Amsterdam City Council in September 1996. This was laid out across a series of new islands and was based on creating a contemporary version of nineteenth and twentieth central Amsterdam, with enclosed residential rectangular housing blocks, positioned adjacent to a network of canals. The spine (armature) of the new district was a new boulevard - IJburglaan - with a new tram route running along its centre. Rather wide and perhaps too straight, the intention is that this boulevard will become a well-used public space.

The spatial development framework for three larger islands - Steigereiland, Haveneiland and Groot Rieteiland - was based on a grid of rectangular blocks, rectilinear streets, green strips, waterways, quays, squares, etc, modelled on studies of the patterns, dimensions and character of the neighbourhoods of central Amsterdam. The spine of the development was a wide central boulevard - IJburglann - carrying the tram and designed as a multi-lane boulevard, and as a pedestrian street rather than as simply a road. The tallest elements would be on this central boulevard and would be of 8-storeys, with lower rise elements towards the edges of the islands. On Haveneiland, in particular, the streets were designed to be 30 m wide (the VINEX norm is 22 m) including generous pavements. There would be a fine grain of mixed uses, with each development block required to provide a defined mix of dwelling types, offices, local services and general amenities. Within this spatial framework, there would be four large public spaces - market place; public garden; playing field; and large city park - plus play areas, crèche, sports ground, leisure centres, place of worship, hotel, doctors, riding school, harbour, tennis courts, etc.

The spatial development framework was designed and configured to enable a rich variety of building types and styles, with the islands intentionally having different characters. Development on Haveneiland is dense, mainly flatted and has been developed through street block land parcels. Steigereiland and Rieteiland are less dense, and mainly composed of houses and delivered using plot-based platting. Zeeburgereiland (see below) has also been platted for plot-based housing developments (though development here has been stalled by the recession), while Phase II will be developed using a combination of plot-based and (smaller) block basing.

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3.2 Stakeholder engagement

Due to the size and controversial nature of the proposals, there was an extended and extensive engagement process. There was also an intense process of communication with all kinds of people and also with organisations that would provide services there.

IJburg had a potential population, but no actual population: while an area can be planned, it cannot be known in advance precisely who will live there. The DRO thus had to take the concerns of everyone into account and wanted to get a very broad view of what potential residents would want from the new dwellings and within the new neighbourhood.

With the referendum on the City's decision to develop IJburg due in 1997, a publicity campaign started in the mid-1990s. For the city to win the referendum, it was necessary to have people saying either that they wanted to live there or, alternatively, to support its development even though they did not intend to live there. The shortage of housing in Amsterdam affected people in different ways: even if not directly affected, they would have friends or children who were unable to find a place to live: "Everyone is interested in solving the housing problem but there is always debate on how and where to solve it." (Tineke Van Der Pol, DRO, 2010).

Interestingly, because the site was isolated, there was no NIMBY-ism. Some of the most common themes included the quality of the housing and neighbourhood (e.g. whether it would be "... somewhere where I would be interested in going to live."); whether there would be a mix of prices, housing types, and opportunities for renting/buying; and whether it add something to the city: "...would it add to the city for me if I'm not going to live there; would I have reason to go there, would I like it, would there be something for me to experience there?" The development of a new place as both a somewhere to live and somewhere to visit was seen as vital for connecting a new district with the city in the minds of the city's residents.

Due to the location of the proposed development, there was also an environmental/ecological debate about whether development could (and should) happen somewhere else to avoid disturbing Lake IJmeer or, alternatively, whether the development and design could happen in an ecologically-sensitive manner. Accordingly much of the early engagement took place with environmental pressure groups. Bringing them on board on ensured a made for a mutually satisfactory outcome, with IJburg's design philosophy being 'a-guest-in-the-water' - catering for the interests of both the human and natural world. People have easy access to water and nature reserves, while the extensive soft banks and planting provide habitat for flora and fauna.

In March 1997, a referendum was held to ratify the municipality's decision to develop IJburg. The City lost, but, given the low turnout, it was deemed that there was insufficient opposition.

4. Development process

4.1 Land ownership and assembly

A major obstacle to IJburg was financial rather than technical. Even though the Ministry of Urban Affairs wanted IJburg to go ahead, another public agency - the National Land Holding Organisation - owned the IJmeer seabed. It was under a duty to maximise the income from the land sale and, despite the Municipality being the purchaser, held out for as high a price as possible. The price that the Municipality had to pay for the seabed came close to rendering the project unviable. A compromise was eventually reached.

4.2 Infrastructure provision

Following the successful test island, construction of the other islands started in January 1999 and was largely complete by the end of that year. Infrastructure and services were delivered as part of innovative 'red carpet' programme in 2001. In 2001, the first building was completed on Haveneiland West and in 2005, the IJ Tram came into service and in October of that year, when work also started on the construction of the first dwellings on Haveneiland Oost, marking the final part of IJburg's first phase. In the summer of 2006 the iconic bridge Nesciobrug, the new cycle and pedestrian bridge connecting IJburg with Oost-Watergraafsmeer, was opened.

As a series of new islands, for IJburg to be developed a significant amount of advance off-site infrastructure was required, especially transport connections, due to the need to overcome its actual and perceptual isolation. Until Amsterdam's ring road motorway was completed during the 1990s, IJburg had been very isolated. But to make the new island habitable and attractive to potential residents, further new road connections and bridges had to be built. What was especially important was the express tram. Amsterdam already had a tram system so connecting IJburg to it was a matter of building and integrating an extension rather than creating a new network. The development of the tram would also demonstrate how close to central Amsterdam IJburg was. The IJ Tram was opened in 2005 - four years after the first development at IJburg, when development of Steigereiland and Haveneiland was well underway.

The principal access to the west of the development is provided by a new bridge carrying road, cycle, foot and express tram ways and linking to the Pietheintunnel. The striking 'Nescio' bridge, soaring over the Amsterdam Rijkanal and designed by Nicholas Grimshaw, links IJburg to Amsterdam's eastern suburbs. A new road bridge leads from the east of Haveneiland. This links in with the existing local road network and will in time be directly connected to the A1/A9 interchange.

Development also entailed the complete relocation of the sewage works on Zeeburgereiland. Built in the early 1980s, it handled waste water from almost all of Amsterdam. At considerable expense, it was replaced by a new sewage plant located elsewhere, ensuring both that IJburg would not be directly downwind of a major sewage plant and freeing Zeeburgereilad for development. In early 2004, it was formally included in IJburg's planning area.

Land development and building/parcel development were carried out separately, but co-ordinated throughout by the DRO. DRO was the land developer, overseeing and forward funding the infrastructure provision. Utilities were installed alongside the other physical infrastructure by the normal providers, with installation co-ordinated through what is known as the 'Red Carpet' system - the name given by the IJburg projectbureau to the project co-ordinating the construction of bridges, cables and pipes. The essential idea was to ensure a continuing dialogue between the projectbureau and the multitude of utilities companies to ensure the installation of services infrastructure would be smooth and straightforward.

4.3 Land release and development procurement

Building the artificial islands was a significant development risk, the municipality having to commit expenditure of approximately 300 million Guilders in the late 1990s to creating the islands, but, without really knowing how attractive the resulting land would be to private developers. What was also significant was that it was not feasible to build the islands incrementally:

"... you can't just make some land, build a bit, see what happens see if people like it and then stop if they don't. It is a real All-Or-Nothing situation. You make a decision and take a lot of risk. Would the costs be in line with estimates? Would the project be on time?" (Tineke Van Der Pol, DRO, 2010).

To reduce its exposure and to tie in future developers, the municipality decided to form a public-private partnership with the public sector pledging to create the land and to provide key infrastructure. The private partners guaranteed to buy the land at a price agreed in advance and also to provide some infrastructure. In other words, it was a pre-sale of the land. The contract was made with three development consortia (who, in turn, comprised 20 different development firms) and was for 6,000 dwellings on Steigerland, Havenreiland and Groot Rieteiland.

A public-private partnership of this nature was an experiment. But, by signing the contract, the developers committed to the development. The commitment signal was very important; it showed the private sector's confidence that this would be an area where people would want to live.

Complications arising from the public-private partnership led to a difficult relationship between the development consortia and the DRO. In retrospect, the arrangement was unsatisfactory in three key respects.

  • Scale: 6,000 units and 20 parties meant each developer had relatively few units (an average 300 dwellings), and yet still had to commit to participating in a lengthy development process. A solution here might have been to have fewer developers with each of having more units, though this would conflict with desires to have a fine urban grain and a diversity of developers.
  • Land price: the contract specified land prices, but, when the market later boomed, this was deemed to have been far too low as the Muncipality could have financed a greater proportion of IJburg's costs from land sales. This had not been apparent to the Muncipality when the contract was signed. The Muncipality was cautious and wanted sufficient security - the price of that security was a lower land price. The developers might have appreciated that the land price was low at the time, but ultimately they were rewarded for the risk they took.
  • Timescale: IJburg was a long term commitment for the Muncipality, but the private partners were reluctant to make commitments to buy land too far in advance: more than 5 years, and even 3-4 years, was too far into the future. The experience of the public-private partnerships was such that the private partners were reluctant to do it again, while the public partners recognised that partnerships with the private sector should be on a smaller scale and for shorter periods of time.

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The developers gained from being able to obtain relatively cheap land that was ready for development. Conversely, they were committed to being involved with the design stage for extended periods in advance, which tied up energy and resources that had an opportunity cost with respect to other potential projects.

It was originally intended that the public sector would provide curb-to-curb infrastructure and to require private developers to provide public realm as and when they built out their land parcels. But this proved difficult to work, and public realm is now installed by the DRO before private development takes place, allowing quality standards to be better controlled. Schools and other social infrastructure were financed by developers as part of their contractual obligations.

IJburg had a meticulously planned phasing, with a rolling programme of infrastructure provision and land release, and development taking place on an island-by-island basis. Steigereiland and the western end of Haveneiland were the first real phase of IJburg to be developed and served as a testing ground. Building development and design was controlled by a masterplan and through a design code, and also through phasing and parcelisation, with developers purchasing serviced plots. There were many building developers; Haveneiland and Steigereiland were delivered by the three development consortia comprising more than 20 development companies.

Steigereiland

Bisected by IJburglaan, Steigereiland is a roundish island, and incorporates many different types of accommodation, including some space reserved for floating dwellings. It is entirely low and medium rise, rarely rising more than five storeys. The spatial development framework here was based on a so-called 'collage city' concept, with eight character areas. Much of it consists of individually-procured street houses. To further stimulate a rich variety of architecture, design regulations were limited.

Haveneiland and Rieteilanden

Haveneiland and Rieteilanden were largely developed in parallel, working progressively towards the south east. The larger Haveneiland had more rules governing massing, materials, etc. Groot Rieteiland is similar to Haveneiland but with narrower streets and smaller street blocks. On Kleine Rieteiland, it is different again because individual land plots are being developed by private individuals working with an architect of their choice, without a co-ordinating architect and without any design control by the municipal inspectorate.

Phase II

In 2004 a spatial development framework was produced for the four islands - Centrumeiland, Middeneiland, Strandeiland and Buiteneiland - comprising Phase II. Phase II has since been delayed because the spatial development framework plan was thrown out in 2007 when the Council of State judge ruled that the flexibility of the plan was such that it allowed for the possibility of environmental damage. The new zoning plan is to be submitted in the summer of 2010, after which work can start on the final four islands. In the meantime, however, the financial crisis has contracted the world's supply of development capital. Land creation and infrastructure provision will not happen until the City is sufficiently confident that the land creation will be profitable.

4.4 Design control

To ensure design quality and integration, the city council appointed a 'quality team'. Each architect/designer working on a housing block/parcel was placed under the supervision of a block principal, called a 'coach', who acted as a coordinating architect ensuring that the building and block designs of individual designers combined coherently, and that potential conflicts between different uses were also considered. The work of the architects and block principals was overseen by a team lead by Kees Rijnboutt (a former government architect), and consisting of Frits Palmbroom as masterplanner, two architects, an urban planner, landscape architect and the chair of aesthetic control commission. Developers soon learnt that the best way of getting through this process was to employ a good architect: "Nobody can simply choose the path of least resistance and trot out a design on autopilot." (Claus 2001: 72)

The detail of the design control regime varies from island to island, with each island intended to have a different character, and different building types, ranging from large 8-storey apartment blocks along IJburglaan to individual detached houses on the edge of the development.

5. Quality appraisal

IJburg is a splendid example of the creation of a 'good ordinary' neighbourhood - something much more difficult than the term suggests. IJburg is still less than 10 years old, yet already seems well-established. This fast build-out has also helped to reduce interest payments on the funding of the advance infrastructure provision. It shows how a successful urban extension becomes a functioning part of the city. IJburg has functionality as both a place to live and a place to go to. It is a rounded neighbourhood, which feels and functions like a pre-existing part of the city, yet even the earliest bits are little more than five years old. It has a distinctly urban character, with a mix of functions - even the diminutive Steigereiland has little bars and a school, while Haveneiland has pretty much everything.

Twice the density of the average VINEX development, it provides a diverse and varied urban landscape, with a range of different housing types. It also demonstrates how careful planning and a robust delivery mechanism can allow the build-out of an area with many different designers and development models, producing a rich variety of built environment than is normally expected in a newly-created neighbourhood. It avoids the temptation to be outlandish in layouts or design of the place. The street layouts are conventional and within this framework there is space for some quite extraordinary architecture, but it is contained within a framework of well defined streets and blocks that allows architectural variety without distracting from the place. There has also been a significant provision of public infrastructure (especially transport), minimising any feelings of being 'on the periphery' - though it is still seen as such by people who live elsewhere in Amsterdam.

IJburg also has high levels of interaction with surrounding water and nature: "Water is still the boss. IJburg is a guest in the IJmeer". There are lots of jetties and boats, and the integration with the natural features of banks, lakes, canals and the reserve has been skilfully executed to ensure a good relationship between city and water and to minimise the environmental impact of development. It provides the best features of living in urban Amsterdam, but on the edge of the city: people feel like they have a lot of room, they are close to nature and yet that they also live in Amsterdam.

On the negative side, there is some criticism that IJburg has been over-planned and that this is at odds with the way that people collectively define the use and identity of their neighbourhood, and form communities. In Haveneiland, for example, a cobalt blue townhouse - known as 'The Blue House'- in the middle of the 'Castellum' ('Block 35'), served from 2005 to 2009 as a centre for artistic and cultural production and research into community development on IJburg, particularly the tension between spontaneous, 'organic communities' and planned, 'socially engineered' communities'. The Blue House influenced the municipality's approach to IJburg Phase II, proposing such ideas as reserving 'grey' spaces for temporary uses and allowing time to explore options before deciding how best to develop them in response to the needs of the new community.

Planners also necessarily made assumptions about the number of people living there and what facilities were needed when, about how many elderly people and young families there would be and how these groups would interact. But the planners' assumptions were only assumptions and reality might prove different: a social centre for young people was planned to open in 2014, for example, there were soon far more 12-18 year olds than had been anticipated.

To summarise, key delivery lessons include having a dedicated delivery body and project team assigned to the project; getting all public partners on board at the start of the process; and having a robust vision and framework for the site, coupled with the resources to deliver it. For Scotland, it offers an excellent example of a planned urban extension.

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Assessment of IJburg according to Scottish Government's 'Designing Places' criteria

Does the place have a distinct identity?

Its identity is recognisably Amsterdam, with its high density and proximity to water. At the same time it is very much IJburg and could not be mistaken for any other VINEX location nor for anywhere else in Amsterdam or the Netherlands.

Does the place have spaces that are safe and pleasant?

Very many. The streets themselves are pleasant, attractive and free in most places from too much traffic. There are also small and large parks, a beach (in summer), a popular marina, the adjacent Diemerpark nature reserve and the water itself.

Is the place easy to move around (especially on foot) ('permeable')?

Yes. It is built to a grid that has similar dimensions to the traditional neighbourhoods of Amsterdam. It is also easy to move from IJburg to the surrounding mainland and to Amsterdam; IJburg is very well connected, with many bridges, especially for pedestrians/cyclists.

Does the place make visitors feel sense-of-welcome?

Yes. It is easy to get to and find your way around IJburg, due to its coherent layout and dedicated tram line. The (sole) Band B is built in a shape reminiscent of an upturned boat and is very welcoming to visitors indeed.

Will the place adapt easily to changing circumstances ('robust')?

IJburg's rich variety is a strength. Fine urban grain and use of small plots allows for incremental development and renewal of buildings. Many land uses and good connections ensure that the place will always have a number of functions and purposes. The main risk for IJburg is that of rising sea levels. This is partly mitigated by the development of floating houses on Steigereiland and provision of spaces for houseboats.

Does the place make good use of scarce resources ('sustainable')?

It certainly makes good use of a very scarce resource in Holland (land) by simply creating more and building to a high density. It is quite possible to live in IJburg without a car, or at least only need to use one occasionally. Most journeys can be made by tram or bike; both are probably quicker than driving in Amsterdam. IJburg, while very good, does not however have the same overarching commitment to environmental sustainability that characterises Hammarby Sjöstad.

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