Sloterplas Amsterdam

As part of the fourth International Architecture Biennale (IABR), nine design firms were commissioned by Amsterdam’s Spatial Planning Department to create visions for various locations throughout the city. The theme of the exhibition was ‘Free-State Amsterdam’: a city where chance, intuition and spontaneity play a role in planning processes. Bureau B+B was asked to contribute a vision for Sloterpark, the large park and recreational area located in the heart of the Westelijke Tuinsteden neighborhood of Amsterdam. B+B associated the ‘Free-State’ theme with the (originally biblical) notion of the Land of Milk and Honey. The design included fairytale lighting for both trees and water, transforming the park into a unique dream world. The simple tool of lighting gives an identity to the Sloterplas (the lake in the middle of Sloterpark), generates vitality and inspires new initiatives on the part of neighborhood residents, businesses and governmental entities. At the exhibition, the plan was displayed in the form of a scale model with a scale of 1:1,000, featuring magic trees made of salt crystals on a jet-black base. The trees grew and changed over the course of the exhibition, yielding an end-result that, by its nature, could not be known in advance. To ensure that the scale model would give the lasting image, B+B had been experimenting for months with different types of paper, tree shapes, distilled water, pipettes, salt, ammonia, glue, infusion bags and silicone. When the biennale was over, Zef Hemel, director of Amsterdam’s Spatial Planning Department, wrote on his blog: ‘I think back wistfully to that scale model…The scale-model of my dreams is no more.’

  • Location: Sloterplas, Amsterdam Nieuw-West, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • study: 2009
  • Client: Municipality of Amsterdam