City Administration Amsterdam North (SDAN)

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Competition for cultural entrepreneurs

NDSM wharf, Amsterdam North

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1 finding alternative use for an otherwise abandoned area
2 attracting cultural oriented entrepreneurs to create a focal point for future urban development
3 securing property against unintended users (squatters, grey businesses)

City Administration Amsterdam Noord (SDAN)

Panorama Noord - City Administration Amsterdam Noord (SDAN)

number of applicants:
around 30 groups

October / November 1999


Stadsdeel Amsterdam-Noord
Postbus 37608
1030 BB Amsterdam

The competition for cultural entrepreneurs is an example of an active approach a city can take to influence the course of urban development using the drive of unconventional local partnerships. To get a scope of possible partners and their ideas, the city administration has announced an open public competition.

The competition asked to provide a vision, program and a business model to transform the +/- 20000 m2 vacated hall of the former NDSM Wharf and the surrounding site into a focal point for cultural activities.

In this way, the redevelopment of the wharf could contribute to the urban restructuring process, which transforms this industrial site into a mixed living and working environment.


In the mid 1990¬ís the City Administration of Amsterdam North was facing difficulties in restructuring and developing the enormous derelict shipyards at the Northern IJ-embankments. Grey business and criminal activities started to flourish, while impulses for more urban activities were lacking. When the city in 1996 had the possibility to gain control over the largest shipyard in the area (the NDSM wharf) it took the opportunity to include in the development strategies the possibilities for leasing this wharf to culture-oriented companies / entrepreneurs. After consulting various authorities in the fields of economics and arts, in 1999,  this led to the proclamation of a competition with the aim to find the best concept for cultural use of the wharf.

organization & actors

The competition has been organized by City Administration Amsterdam North (SDAN).
Around 100 requests for the competition guidelines have been made by various groups of individuals, 30 applicants have submitted a plan for wide spectrum of use of the wharf. One group has been selected, for its cultural program- Kinetic North. Funding has been provided by the Central City government to the winner to work out and to deliver a detailed plan.

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