16 September 2022 News

These designers see opportunities for the bridges of Amsterdam

Many bridges and quay walls of the City of Amsterdam are at the end of their technical lifespan. Closing a bridge to car traffic means a change for local residents that may be received negatively. While it could also create opportunities. A piece of the city is reclaimed from the car, which can bring new uses and enrichment to the city. So how can we shape the transition of the use of such a bridge in such a way that the change is received as added value in a neighbourhood? In What if Lab: Bridging the gap, a social and a spatial designer will collaborate to develop a future vision for these bridges.

Last week, the Bruggen en Kademuren programme at the City of Amsterdam worked hard to select a social and spatial designer from the number of applications for the open call. The decision was made to pair a social collective and an architectural duo. The two designing parties have now met and cannot wait to visualise new functions for Amsterdam bridges. Sarah Bork, responsible for this initiative within the municipality, says: “We are very excited about this process and can’t wait to see what the designers come up with. We are very willing to learn with them and from them.” Read below who the chosen designers are!

PLYGRND.city teamphoto


PLYGRND.city is a collective of action researchers, artists, photographers, makers, local residents, designers and social workers under the guidance of Arjen Heus. We help residents, municipalities (and their partners), project developers and housing corporations tackle current social issues such as the housing challenge and energy transition. With accessible participation tools (co-creation labs) and guidance in placemaking, together, we build the bridge to a more inclusive and connected society.

In recent years, PLYGRND.city has worked hard on various spatial and social issues, with projects such as Hoodlab, the Tunnel of Love and Greenbox. Arjen says: “In a combination of design research, social design, spatiality, placemaking and integral collaboration, I always look for connection and culture, in our projects.”

“Like the model of our Hoodlabs, we steer towards a blueprint for a concept that is easy to produce and duplicable. A combination of hardware and software, accessible to all Amsterdam residents. Radical? Maybe so. In any case, I look forward to working together to find new ways to positively influence behaviour for the good of the vibe in our city.”

Ivanka Bakker and Florian Eckardt

Florian Eckardt en Ivanka Bakker

Florian Eckardt (Architect in Amsterdam) and Ivanka Bakker (IVA2D3D) are architects and designers. They regularly work together on conceptual projects and long-term solutions. Their focus is on out-of-the-box design solutions dealing with water in urban areas. Think bridges, water collection, reuse, vegetation, shelter, and water experience. They also apply these themes in the homes, objects, interiors and bridges they design. The (mostly reused) materials and raw materials they use are sustainable, circular, weatherproof and low-maintenance.

“In What If Lab Over-Bruggen, we are working future-oriented and conceptually on a structural and socially necessary solution for Amsterdam. We want to develop a recognisable identity for the new functions of a large number of Amsterdam’s bridges, where the bridge literally and figuratively stands for connection.” – Florian Eckardt & Ivanka Bakker

Some other relevant projects these designers have done together include De Kever (canalhouse 263m2), Come Rain Come Shine and Havengebouw Haarlem.

Keep an eye on our website and social media for updates on this lab!