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last updated: October 5, 2005

The Bijlmer

The town plan for the Bijlmer is based on the ideas of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier, favouring a natural separation between living, working, recreation and traffic. Combined with the desire for more air, light and space this resulted in the design of high-rise apartment blocks in a honeycomb structure with park-like internal open spaces in between. The plan aimed at a new residential district for some 100,000 inhabitants. Currently the entire district it accommodates 85,000 inhabitants, 50,000 of which live in the area which is known as 'the Bijlmer'. In 1968 the first high-rise flat was finished and in 1975 the last of these flats was completed. By then the plan had been adapted and changed to the construction of medium and low-rise blocks.

The high rise apartment blocks never functioned as foreseen by Le Corbusier and they did not attract young middle-class families from Amsterdam - they went to new towns and suburbs - but newcomers (including many people from Surinam) with a weak position in the Amsterdam housing market. The problems of the Bijlmer have been continuous and mainly social in nature. In 1992 a large programme of Renewal of the Bijlmer started, aiming at the demolition and reconstruction of the high-rise apartment blocks. The programme will last until 2007, but has been updated in the meantime. An evaluation at this point in time is very welcome.

Within the Bijlmer attention will be focused on the 'E/G buurt' housing estate which is currently being reconstructed: some high-rise has already been demolished and replaced by low-rise; other structures will be rehabilitated in the coming years.