Former shipyard NDSM, Northern IJ-Embankments
Amsterdam North
the Netherlands

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type of use
Milica Topalovic, Marc Neelen, Ana Dzokic
(Stealth group)


initial cost
4.1 mio EUR for repairs on buildings
operating cost
60 EUR per month

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submitted by
submitted on

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web links
NDSM web site
Amsterdam Noord web site

NDSM Wharf Amsterdam

pioneering temporary use of a huge abandoned ship yard

time frame: Initiation - October 1999, start exploitation 2001, contract until 2011, with an option for prolongation

initiators: SDAN – Amsterdam North local city authorities

users: Kinetisch Noord

municipal role: the Amsterdam (Cultural) Breeding Fund donated startup capital to help realise the workspaces

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Development (History)

In the 1970’s the ship building companies that dominated the harbor area of Amsterdam collapsed. In the 1980’s, the NDSM Wharf (the site of the project) bankrupted. The city of Amsterdam North applied for EU-subsidies in order to promote alternative industries and made in 1992 a contract with industrial companies for renting the NDSM hall. When parts of the hall started to become a breeding ground for criminal activities the city of Amsterdam North stopped the contract in 1998. At that point they had to face the problem of finding a new use for the wharf and keeping the threat away of ‘losing’ the wharf to the by-now professionally organized squatters network. The city opted for a model in which cultural use by a strong partner would give an input to the urban development of the area – and found itself in coalition with the squatters network organized in Kinetisch Noord to re-develop the wharf.

Detailed Description

a) Description of Location, Site and Building

The NDSM site consists of three large construction halls and two slipways (named X and Y). One of the construction halls is still in use for shipbuilding and on the terrain are some small marina companies - the rest of the site is used by Kinetisch Noord.  Total surface of the site: approx. 86.000 m2

b) Description of users and use

Kinetisch Noord is an organization set up as a ‘breeding ground’ for artists and young entrepreneurs with a low-profile commercial character. As an organization, it is set up to facilitate the users of this wharf and to be a legal body in negotiations with all the involved authorities. All participants (users of space) of Kinetisch Noord are member of a society of tenants. This society is split in 20 clusters in which tenants with complementary artistic interests work together. Each cluster also occupies a physical part of the wharf, and is responsible for the construction of its working spaces.

c) Description of spatial and time patterns of use

The wharf will house users and groups of users of contrasting scales and with different time-usage of the space (up to 24/7 usage). The (spatial) model under development to handle this is a combination of a free spatial structure and a modular structure, which would enable to house the different types of users.

d) Description of legal relationship, problems encountered, and how they where solved

Kinetisch Noord is renting and exploiting the wharf over a period of 10 years. Additionally, a legal & organizational public-private-partnership model (‘BV Durf’ or Daring Ltd.) is being under construction to develop the wider wharf area. The main problems are in the different character of the partners involved (bottom-up vs. top-down) and the different financial background of the partners. A mediator has been appointed by the local city government to manage the co-operation and communication between the partners.

e) Benefits and conflicts for the different parties involved

Benefits are to be found in: development of a cultural ‘playground’ and breeding place, use of local powers in re-development of an area, generation of a non-generic character of the site. Conflicts in various legal affairs and in the expected economic profitability ‘horizon’ envisioned by the partners.

f)  Effect for the neighborhood/ overall city

NDSM wharf functions as a pioneer-user and cultural injection of the northern IJ-Embankment of Amsterdam, a larger area open to urban development in the next decades. Also, it gives a place for more alternative users (artists, craftsman, alterative lifestyles).

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legal: exploitation costs: 6,35 million euro approx (2001 plus 10 years)

organisation costs are 30% of exploitation, maintenance ‘casco’ (hull) and construction excluded

average indoor space rent /m2 euro 7,85 (level dec. 2001)

site map


exterior view

Interior view -1

Interior view -2

printable version in PDF format proj_template-ams.pdf

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