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WasteSpace, Amsterdam, NL

How can a city's wasted spaces be transformed into zones of innovation?

S333 was commissioned to provide an overview of environmentally impaired zones in and around Amsterdam, to document and review the lack of space suitable for development of housing in Amsterdam and to suggest alternative design solutions that were economically and politically viable. An estimated 50,000 dwellings need to be built between 2010 and 2030 within these zones. In practice, these locations are often reduced to a series of bureaucratic planning rules and regulations, minimising the scope for innovation and often resulting in long delays to the planning process.


This study provides an alternative way of thinking that places the environmentally damaging source at the beginning of the design process, resulting in new urban and architectural possibilities.


Aerial contours

Traffic noise

Polluted ground                                               

Extra safety zones                                                    

Working directly for the Municipality of Amsterdam, S333 was the first external consultant commissioned to combine all the four categories of environmental hindrance into a single map and so establish an accurate overview of the problem.


The categories are: safety zones, ground pollution, air pollution and sound. It was surprising to learn that that 66% of Amsterdam lay within this ‘waste space’. Coupled with the areas earmarked for intensification, 46 locations were mapped and then organised within an inventory of classifications.


This inventory allowed S333 to help the municipality broaden its approach to the problem, by escaping the paradox that environmental waste produced by industry and increased mobility either cancel out potential economic benefits or prevent the possibility of functions co-existing in new ways.


Overlap of 4 main zones of environmental hindrance

S333 proposed a way of thinking beyond the rules, allowing an increased range of design possibilities in the form of ‘optimising tools’. These tools were presented to the municipality at the end of the project as a means to work more creatively with private landowners, developers and investors in the future. Of the 46 locations identified, three were studied and developed by S333 within this design methodology to highlight the benefits of this approach.


Amsterdam's WasteSpace: 46 zones of environmental hindrance within the city requiring attention

WasteSpace, Amsterdam, NL



Amsterdam City Council

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