Meester Visser Square, Amsterdam

Meester Visserplein Amsterdam schetsontwerp Bureau B+B

Over many years the Meester Visser Square had been an object of fascination and study for architects and urban designers because of its awkwardness and inefficiency. Created in 1968, the large-scale urban interventions of the 1960s – the Wibaut axis, in combination with the IJ Tunnel –left behind a large hole. The rearrangement of traffic, including the removal of a roundabout, resulted in an usable space in front of the Portuguese Synagogue and the Film Academy. When viewed from central Amsterdam, the square looks resembled an end point: the space flees from the viewer. The broad access roads form a barrier. Tourists turn around and go in the opposite direction. The spot is neither charming nor dowdy, and can only be characterized as rough. Therefore, due to all these issues, the time came for the square to be renovated. The municipality asked Bureau B+B to devise a temporary concept for the space, to tide it over until there was more clarity as to a definitive use.
This temporariness provided an opportunity to assign a leading role to the narrative aspect, the inspiration for the design was drawn from both the past and the present. Meester Visserplein is no longer empty: two robust steel buildings form a foil for the heavy traffic. On both sides of the tramway, the treillages surround and cover the roofs of the tunnel, presently used for TunFun indoor playground. Featuring hanging plantings, the structures form two ‘tropical glass houses’, resulting in an exotic intermediate spot for those who have just left the Plantage district (with the Hortus botanical garden and Artis zoo). Through the shape and height of the structures, this urban folly is reminiscent of the buildings demolished to make way for the square, and in this way forms a kick-off for the new construction to come. Particularly in the summer, when the plantings making up the treillages are in full leaf and flower, the square itself seems to disappear. The hidden spots within are accessible to the public and house a coffee bar, sidewalk café, ticket office and the entrance to MacBike. The spaces can also be used to hold special events, parties and exhibitions. Although, unfortunately, the design was ultimately not executed.

  • Location: Mr. Visserplein, Nieuwmarkt en Lastage, Amsterdam, Nederland
  • Concept design: 2009
  • Client: City of Amsterdam, Central District