In IJmeer, a lake on Amsterdam’s eastern side, the city’s new residential district IJburg is coming into being on seven artificial islands of dredged sand. When, a few decades from now, the district is complete, 45,000 city dwellers will be living here in 18,000 dwellings.
This major urban expansion has a prehistory that goes back to 1965, when the architects/urban planners Van den Broek and Bakema presented their celebrated scheme for a linear city in IJmeer (‘City on Pampus’). There were no further developments for many years. In the nineties, a plan that had been drawn up in the eighties for ‘Nieuw Oost’ (‘New East’) was worked up into a scheme for a VINEX district, and in 1996 the city council gave its seal of approval to the construction of the residential site, which had now been renamed IJburg. However, the lively debate between those in favour of and those against the construction of IJburg led to a referendum in 1997. When it became clear that there was insufficient opposition to the scheme, IJburg could go ahead In the years that followed, a large part of the future archipelago was gradually constructed, on the basis of an overall urban design scheme (1996) by the urban planners Palmboom & Van den Bout, by depositing dredged sand.
In 2001, the first building was completed on Haveneiland West and at the present moment, in 2010, the development on several other islands is well underway. Bridges have been built, artworks have been erected, bars and restaurants have opened and the streets have taken definite shape. In 2005, the IJ Tram came into service and in the summer of 2006 the bridge Nesciobrug, the new cycle and pedestrian bridge that connects IJburg with the district of Oost-Watergraafsmeer, has been officially opened. Most of the buildings that have now been realized are situated on Steigereiland, Haveneiland and Rieteilanden West.
The urban design scheme for these islands (2000) is based on a grid of rectangular blocks, rectilinear streets, green strips and waterways. Most of the blocks are being fleshed out by a team of architects, with one architect in each team acting as coordinating architect. A supervisory and quality control team, headed by the former government architect Kees Rijnboutt, has overseen the work of the coordinating architects. On Kleine Rieteiland, ‘private plots’ are being built on by private individuals who are working with an architect of their choice, without a supervisory architect and without any aesthetic control by the municipal inspectorate. On Steigereiland, too, the new city district has taken shape. The urban design scheme for Steigereiland (2001) is based on the ‘collage city’ concept, which means that each of the eight neighbourhoods has been given its own individual character as far as possible. In some of the neighbourhoods on Steigereiland, space has been reserved for floating dwellings. In other neighbourhoods, as on Kleine Rieteiland, private plots have been issued and in strips 1 and 2 this has resulted in a high degree of architectural variation. The design of the public space will provide the necessary cohesion.
In October 2005, the go-ahead was given for the construction of the first dwellings on Haveneiland Oost. This marks the final part of IJburg’s first phase, comprising Steigereiland, Haveneiland and the Rieteilanden. In early 2004, Zeeburgereiland, which is older, was formally included in IJburg’s planning area. And in the same period, when the urban design scheme for Centrumeiland and the urbanistic programme of requirements for Middeneiland were laid down, a further step was taken in the archipelago’s expansion. The second phase, which includes Centrumeiland, Middeneiland, Strandeiland and Buiteneiland, has suffered a delay. The Council of State rejected the existing zoning plan for environmental reasons. The new zoning plan is submitted in the summer of 2010, after which the work on the final four islands has started. The second phase of IJburg will be built in several small stages.