SLUISlab and CGI kick-off held at Sluisbuurt construction site in Amsterdam
A few years from now, the future Sluisbuurt neighbourhood on the Zeeburger island in Amsterdam will be home to a fantastic new Inholland building – although it's hard to imagine at the moment, since the neighbourhood is currently nothing more than a huge expanse of sand. And yet Inholland was there earlier this month, as the very first of the future residents: on the grassy field by the temporary building next to the construction site, twenty third-year students from different programmes unleashed their creativity during a picnic programme as part of the kick-off for the Creative Growth Initiative (CGI) minor. This was made possible by the City of Amsterdam and the Inholland University of Applied Sciences’ SLUISlab.
'We wanted to hold this kick-off at the construction site of the future Sluisbuurt', explains Karel Koch, lab leader at the SLUISlab. The site is being readied for construction Amsterdam municipal engineering office and the construction company Dura Vermeer. Over the next ten years, these two partners will bear joint responsibility for the development of this new neighbourhood. 'Currently, we are hard at work preparing for the infrastructure', Karel says. 'While the site itself is not yet safe enough, we did manage to get permission to organise our kick-off week right next door at ‘Keet Zeeburgereiland.'
'The plan was to move our SLUISlab into a temporary location in the Sluisbuurt starting in September 2020', Karel continues. 'The idea was to have a temporary café as well, but the city has put those plans on hold for the time being. We did, however, find a place in a building in the adjacent neighbourhood, the Sportheldenbuurt: Nautilus. From now on, the SLUISlab researchers will be there every Thursday, together with CGI learning coordinator Esther Bouw and her students.'
Esther Bouw adds: 'Community surveys and trying out new things are important to the CGI students, and with an eye to doing those things right, we were very eager to visit the site itself!' Over the next twenty weeks, Esther will supervise an equal number of students as they explore multidisciplinary issues in connection with ‘placemaking’ for the Sluisbuurt. This involves experiential concepts of a temporary nature, aimed at making the public space attractive, in cooperation with neighbourhood residents. CGI students are enrolled in a wide range of study programmes at different Inholland locations. This group comes from the Leisure & Events Management, Nursing, Facility Management, Tourism Management (Dutch and English-taught) and Creative Business (Dutch and English) programmes.
Over the course of the kick-off week, and under the supervision of artist Rob Voerman and industrial designer Davy Wouda, the students designed and built a podium and festival furniture. This offered a great way to get to know one another and to get started working together in teams straight away. Cris van Dijk, a Nursing student, had this to say about the experience: 'Just dive right in, that's what I learned during the week. We turned out to be better at working with our hands than we thought! When you combine your strengths, you can create something amazing from humble means.
The start signal for the CGI semester came Friday during the ‘Placemaking Picnic’ programme, in a presentation led by Karel Koch and Noor Mohamed, a Leisure & Events Management student.
Tour of the construction site
The programme also included a new construction quiz and a tour of the construction site. Merel de Boer and Myrthe Dortants from the Inholland team, who were tasked with preparations for the new construction in Amsterdam, ran a game to teach the students fun facts, such as that the silhouette of the Sluisbuurt was inspired by the Canadian city of Vancouver.
During the tour, Roelof Veen (environmental manager) and Roy Belmer (construction manager) from the City of Amsterdam explained that sand had been trucked in and spread over the site, creating a layer up to 5 metres deep in some places. This layer of sand ensures that, over time, the underlying soil will settle under the weight, becoming more compact and creating a stable underground that can support the infrastructure. To accommodate the building's foundation and other aspects, a portion of the deposited sand had to be excavated. This provided a sneak peek of the contour of the Inholland building – which is already clearly visible!
Visible in the community
Kim Hagenaar, coordinator of the SLUISlab, looks back at the event with satisfaction: 'The great thing is that here, through the SLUISlab, we're bringing together not only the new construction team of the Inholland Service Organisation, the CGI students and lecturers and colleagues from the Creative Business research group, but employees of the City of Amsterdam as well. By doing so, we're uniting placemaking, new construction and innovation with regard to learning and research. In Nautilus, we will also be working together with students, researchers, residents and partners from professional practice. This will make us quite literally visible in the community and make it easier for us to explore the possibilities for our students. Luckily, I'm seeing a great deal of flexibility and trust from all parties: we're diving right in!'
The SLUISlab on Zeeburger island is a place dedicated to research, education and experimentation in connection with social innovation. Every Thursday from 10:00 to 17:00, researchers, lecturers and students are hard at work at the new SLUISlab location: Nautilus, Eef Kamerbeekstraat 1006, Amsterdam. For more information or to discuss a collaboration, please contact lab coordinator Kim Hagenaar: firstname.lastname@example.org