Flevopark & Beukenplein Amsterdam Oost

Pathways, squares and parks: how tourism can be managed through planning and design.

Amsterdam Municipality

Thematic route link
Mass Tourism
The increase of tourists in the inner-city of Amsterdam has its side-effects. Many neighbourhood streets and squares are overcrowded with tourists, eagerly gazing up the oh so popular city, often ignoring other pedestrians, bikers, trams and automobiles. For some the city appears to have become a place hosting outdoor queues, hordes of obnoxious gazing strangers, boozy mobs and catastrophically unexperienced bikers.

In this project we use a research by planning and design approach to come up with innovative, integrative and aesthetical physical interventions for inclusion/exclusion to influence the time/space behaviour of tourists and residents. We look at the present ways of conducting the conduct of people by redesigning a public park and interviening on a pub;ic square and the pathways which make it accessible to change the flows of tourist and their routings. We use the designs to study the potential impact of design on the time/space behaviour of tourists and residents.

In this case we explore the possibilities and limits of design to influence tourists by creating interventions for a public park  and a public square and their social and spatial embedding in Amsterdam. The project consists of 3 interrelated steps that will be developed more or less simultaneously and in an iterative fashion:

  1. We make explicit the more covert power mechanisms embedded in urban landscapes and artefacts that influence people’s behaviour in time and space. We do so to gain a better understanding how the urban fabric is currently shaped, designed and planned to perform different tasks. During the case, participants will explore the material manifestations of city tourism, particularly the many ways in which human behaviour is steered, coordinated, enabled and limited by means of elements such as speed-bumps, walls, wires, street patterns, surveillance cameras, and so on. The students will map and analyse the politics of artefacts present in Amsterdam that co-influence the present tourismscapes.
  2. We will come up with solutions that influence people in more implicit/explicit, inclusive/exclusive, efficient and/or humane ways. The interventions can be on different levels, from benches that also function to limit the possibilities of cars driving into a crowd to implicit and explicit design of routes.
  3. We will test and/or present the ideas. Students are encouraged to test their design or elements of that design in real-life situations. If it is impossible to test them in public space, they should be discussed with different relevant stakeholders. The outcomes of these studies can then be used to improve or critique the initial ideas in Amsterdam.

Geographers speak of the politics of artefacts when they observe ways human behaviour is steered, coordinated, enabled and limited by artefacts, design and different spatialities. A famous and often used example is a speed-bump. Speed-bumps slow cars down since otherwise they would have a very bumpy and dangerous ride. Another name for speed-bumb is a ‘silent police man’. The name expresses nicely that a speed-bump is a material object performing the task of a policeman, whereby the task formally done by a human actor is delegated to a non-human one.