Many cities are defined in part by their urban road networks: Los Angeles had its freeways famously categorised as bourgeois or gangster by Ice Cube, while Vancouver’s outright rejection of an urban freeway has made it unique amongst North American cities. But Amsterdam is one city where the freeway is primarily an afterthought for most.
I recently participated in a workshop organised by Failed Architecture called Amsterdam’s Ring Road. The workshop joined together the creative vigour of students in the System D Academy programme at the Sandberg Institute and a variety of urban planners, architects, and researchers. The primary aim was to tackle the fundamental questions of the city’s ring road as architecture but also as infrastructure: how does it breathe life into a city that, by most metrics, has largely rejected the privately-owned car?
Car ownership and freeway development came relatively late to the Netherlands, with the resulting effect that Dutch highways are technologically superior to many of their peers. Continue reading