NDSM Wharf

Key Facts:

Project summary:
The site is what was until the late 1980s Amsterdam’s main docks. As the docks became derelict it became occupied (illegally) by artists and creatives. In 1999 the site was opened up to a competition to propose development on it by the Council. The winner of this competition was a collective called Kinetisch Noord (Kinetic North) who sought to work with the illegal temporary programmes that had filled the gap to develop a flexible master-plan for the area.

Location: Northern IJ embankment, Amsterdam

Programme: Widely varied but with a cultural and artistic core including: Skate park, café, flea markets and other events.

Initiator: City of Amsterdam

Project Duration: 13 yrs, subsequently ext. to 25 yrs

Lead in Time: 12 months

Site Area: 270,000m2

Client Team: City of Amsterdam

Project Team:
Kinetic North Board of 7 members, A “service desk” organisation between the board and “The Society” which consisted of all the tenants who are responsible for their own building works.

Funding Sources: City of Amsterdam £8.5, Loans £4.2m, User Funding £8.5m

Project Costs: Unknown – varies by tenant

Profitability/Loss: Loss making. The project is still subsidised by the Council. The project has found that vacant buildings are much easier to fill than vacant space.

Permissions / Permits: Support of the public authority enabled the creative subversion of its own strict policies on land use and zoning (e.g. Housing is ‘temporary’ bypassing zoning restrictions)
Local Links: The scale of the project is so large that it is a community in its own right, supporting over 250 jobs.

Publicity/advertising: Council lobbied for a passenger ferry across the Ij river to attract people from Amsterdam.

Project Evaluation:

Site Details & Ownership:
The site contains a 20,000m2 hall that is divided into thematic zones (ArtTown, skate park, exhibitions, cafés and galleries) The site also contains a huge outdoor performance area as well as a number of apartments.

Project Reach / Visitors / Target Audience:
The target audience was the whole of Amsterdam, the NDSM site offered something different and with a Ferry connection from the south was easily accessible. Over its long existence the site has attracted many thousands of people from all parts of the City and beyond.

Problems Encountered / Overcome:
The site is huge, whilst the large internal spaces have been successfully re-activated, some of the larger outdoor sites have proved harder to programme successfully on a temporary or budget limited basis. Events like festivals are successful, but building structures to last longer term has proved prohibitively expensive.

Feedback from users / staff:

What next?
It is estimated that a further £4.2m is needed in order to complete the project. As the initial project had a lease of 13 years there was some doubt over its future and ability to deliver on this. However, the initial lease has now been replaced by a 25 year lease securing the future of the development.

In addition, whilst the area remains dominated by temporary creative interventions the success of the NDSM Wharf is beginning to attract more traditional development, with MTV moving its Dutch HQ to the area to capitalise on the creative capital and ‘authenticity’ that exists there. The advent of traditional development may enable the project to eventually break even and turn a profit, though this may be at the expense of the cheap rents that have lead to the areas creative character.

Complementary Programmes:
Many varied programmes exist on site, the scale of the community would support its own community facilities

Project Website / Further Info: www.ndsm.nl

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