For the exhibition Volksvlijt 2056 the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (AMA) is divided into different subareas, each with its own character and role within the region, Of course, one of the AMA subareas is the city centre of Amsterdam, the part of the city within the Singelgracht. During three workshops in the Amsterdam Public Library (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, OBA), Jarrik Ouburg entered into discussion with residents, administrators, Institutions and companies in order to collectively reflect on the innovative power and the future of the city centre of Amsterdam.

The results of these discussions formed the basis for the Winter School 2016, in which all students of the Academy of Architecture participated for two weeks. The ultimate word, thought and action were given to a new generation who will take care of the city. In total, 180 architecture, landscape architecture and urban design students from all over the world throw themselves wholeheartedly into answering the question of how the old historic city can continue to adapt in order to play a significant role for current and future generations: Forever Young.

You could ask yourself if it is not more socially relevant to consider the future of the Nieuw-West (New West) or Zuidoost (South-East) districts of Amsterdam, instead of always looking at the city centre. Is this not a form of navel-gazing? However, just like the umbilical cord is the lifeline between mother and child for nine months and essential to the first growth, the historic city centre is also indispensable to the creation of each city. After cutting the umbilical cord, nothing remains but a scar; the navel, a shadow of its original function. Can we also prevent this from becoming the future scenario for the historic city centre? Or is that actually not so bad?

During the discussions and meetings which were held in the context of Volksvlijt 2056, prior to the Winter School, the central question was therefore: ‘what is the role of the historic city centre now, and in the future, for the body of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area as a whole?’

It became quickly apparent that the historic city centre is no scar, but still the main focus in our reflection about the city. This is not about the physical city, which is photogenically portrayed on websites for tourists, with its beautiful canals and buildings, and UNESCO world heritage status. But it is about what the city actually stands for. The inclusive city. For everyone, of everyone. For the poor and the rich.

Amsterdam, G.H. Breitner (1898)

Model Winterschool Amsterdam Academy of Architecture

For yuppie and family. For young and old. A place to work and to live. For entertainment and advancement. A place for amazement. A place for friction. A place for encounters. And a place that inspires. During the Winter School 2016, we give the new generation free rein. Students of the Academy of Architecture design and research spatial possibilities to adapt and innovate the city centre of Amsterdam, so that it can remain significant for current and future generations. To quote the writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa: ‘Everything must change, so that everything can remain the same’.

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