Old Prison Redeveloped into New Eco City in Amsterdam

The former Bijlmerbajes in Amsterdam, a prison complex in the South-East of the city built in the 1970s, will be redeveloped into a car-free, mixed-use district that focuses on community, recycling and reuse.

A team of architects – OMA, FABRICations Architects and LOLA Landscape – will begin redevelopment for the masterplan of the 7.5 hectare site, as well as the design of a significant portion of the 135,000 square metre building development.

The original prison masterplan was comprised of six linked towers and an administrative building, with a series of courtyards and separate gardens. In the masterplan, the island character of the prison enclosed by walls will be conceptually preserved, yet linked at several positions through new pedestrian and cycle bridges.

The finished neighbourhood, the “Bajes Kwartier”, will become a largely car-free environment, with gardens and areas for recreation and include affordable rental apartments, luxury condominiums, an urban vertical park and farm, arts and health centres, a school and a restaurant.

The expansion of the site will focus on community, recycling and reuse, with a goal of finding new purpose for 98 per cent of the existing building materials. All the structures in the updated complex will be energy-neutral (running on a mix of wind, solar and compost), and new pedestrian and bike paths and bridges will help make the space nearly car-free.

The towers of the Bijlmerbajes have been a landmark in the periphery of Amsterdam for decades. With the city’s urban expansion to the north, south, east and west, the prison complex has gradually become a geographic centre of Amsterdam’s new urban development, and can develop into a vibrant civic and cultural space.

Reuse of building materials is a key part of the redevelopment plans. Prefab elements from the existing walls are to be reused as cladding for new residential buildings, prison bars will be used as balustrades, and the cell doors are to become edge panels for the new pedestrian bridges.

The project is led by partners David Gianotten and Reinier de Graaf, and project architect Mariano Sagasta, and is scheduled to begin in early 2018.

Images courtesy OMA.

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