the world's most visited architecture website
i

Sign up now and start saving and organizing your favorite architecture projects and photos

Sign up now to save and organize your favorite architecture projects

i

Find the most inspiring products for your projects in our Product Catalog.

Find the most inspiring products in our Product Catalog.

i

Get the ArchDaily Chrome Extension and be inspired with every new tab. Install here »

i

All over the world, architects are finding cool ways to re-use run-down old buildings. Click here to see the best in Refurbishment Architecture.

Want to see the coolest refurbishment projects? Click here.

i

Immerse yourself in inspiring buildings with our selection of 360 videos. Click here.

See our immersive, inspiring 360 videos. Click here.

All
Projects
Products
Events
Competitions
Navigate articles using your keyboard
  1. ArchDaily
  2. News
  3. 99% Invisible Investigates the Utopian and Dystopian Histories of the Bijlmermeer

99% Invisible Investigates the Utopian and Dystopian Histories of the Bijlmermeer

99% Invisible Investigates the Utopian and Dystopian Histories of the Bijlmermeer
99% Invisible Investigates the Utopian and Dystopian Histories of the Bijlmermeer, © <a href=‘https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Janericloebe'>Wikimedia user Janericloebe</a>licensed under<a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en/'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a>
© Wikimedia user Janericloebelicensed underCC BY-SA 3.0

How can we plan a better city? The answer has confounded architects and urban planners since the birth of the industrial city. One attempt at answering came in the form of a spectacular modernist proposal outside of Amsterdam called the Bijlmermeer. And, as a new two-part episode by 99% Invisible reveals, it failed miserably. But, like all histories, the story is not as simple as it first appears.

In the post-war landscape of Europe, architects were provided with a platform to re-design cities from the ground up—linear, open, clean, and everything in its proper place. Thus the hexagonal-shaped scheme of the 6 square kilometer project separated actives and functions into their respective zones, restricting living to the sky and activity to the ground. The utopian and egalitarian ideals quickly dissolved as services drastically lagged behind construction. A delayed Metro line and almost non-existent amenities were only the beginning of the Bijlmermeer's troubles.

Soon, the massive complex of 31 buildings and 13,000 apartments became undesirable for the white middle class the project had been proposed for. Yet, the vacant apartments provided much-needed support for the influx of Surinamese migrants post-independence as well as those from Turkey, Morocco, and Ghana alongside queer people who faced challenges securing housing elsewhere. Vacant and underused spaces also became prime locations for heroin dealers and addicts who were pushed out of the city proper. The site was later labeled a ghetto.

But, unlike the inevitable destruction of Pruitt IgoeBijlmermeer's American counterpart—both residents and architects intervened into the existing structure to counter the site’s paternalistic modernity.

Learn more about how the Bijlmermeer went from “City of the Future” to “The Drain of the Dutch Society” to one of the most diverse areas in the Netherlands in 99% Invisible’s two part investigation here and here.

News via: 99% Invisible.

99% Invisible Recalls the Unknown Arts Awards of the Olympic Games

We've all heard of the record-breaking times, longest distances and of course, winners of those coveted medals, but according to 99% Invisible there is a lesser-known Olympic Games honor participants have received: awards in architecture.

99% Invisible Explores the Strange Phenomenon of Rotary Jails

99% Invisible has recently published a review of rotary jails, a strange prison architecture system in which cell blocks turn to align with the position of a single door, in the attempt to create better security. Used around the early 20 th century, this odd, carousel-like technology spread across the United States in mainly Midwestern towns.

About this author
Evan Pavka
Author
Cite: Evan Pavka. "99% Invisible Investigates the Utopian and Dystopian Histories of the Bijlmermeer" 10 Mar 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/890077/99-percent-invisible-investigates-the-utopian-and-dystopian-histories-of-the-bijlmermeer/> ISSN 0719-8884
Read comments

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.