No to kitchen gardens, Yes to fruit trees, Yes to rocks, and a Big Yes for the tunnel becoming a meeting place. This is the feedback of residents in Amsterdam Nieuw-West on our proposals to enhance their living environment.
Earlier in the ‘Re-dreaming the Street’ project we had asked them how their Derkinderenstraat and beyond would look like when they have the say. Based on their dreams and desires we made several proposals and with these proposals in hand we went back to get their reactions.
Kitchen gardens aren’t valued in Derkinderenstraat, because residents think it will block their much valued parking spaces. They are also afraid nobody will take care of it. But fruit trees are very popular amongst them. It’s less maintenance, they can park their cars and gives them a feeling of a healthy and vital life with more color in the street. Residents also love to have rocks on the grass instead of spring riders and seesaws for children. Mothers say that children get bored to soon with these playsets and that rocks appeal more to children’s imagination and fun. Others including elderly people also value the rocks, reminding them of holidays and sometimes of their home country (most of the residents have a Moroccan and Turkish background). The biggest yes is for the proposal to turn the tunnel into vibrant meeting place where various community programs can be held. They think it will positively change the way the neighborhood looks now, and that it can provide a safer and more pleasant passage from and to the park.
Our physical presence in the neighborhood did surprise many residents. Often they are questioned by researchers and organizations about their neighborhood, but never see anything done afterwards. Unfortunately it seems that the municipality of Amsterdam will not implement the much wanted proposals, as the urban planning for this area is fixed. However, in principle our proposals could be applied anywhere. Only condition is that in each location the dreams, needs and values of the local community are central, the very core of the Design+Desires program.