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Nelson Mandela Park (Bijlmerpark)

designed by /

Location: Amsterdam / The Netherlands / Type: Parks / Built: 2011 /
Show on Google Maps / Published on December 9, 2014

Mecanoo: The Bijlmer area is the result of a large expansion of Amsterdam in the late sixties and seventies. The utopian modernism that underpinned the plans for the neighbourhood envisaged a metro system, a road network free of crossings, uniform thirteen-story housing blocks coupled with parking garages and extensive green space. In practice, it delivered an unsafe neighbourhood with problems and an unforeseen multi-cultural population. Now re-branded Amsterdam Zuidoost, the neighbourhood has been urged to provide a differentiated housing stock and to improve its management of the public realm. Part of this strategy is the transformation of the Bijlmerpark into a new urban park with seven hundred homes and six hectares of sports facilities. Mecanoo’s response to this brief has three main elements: the integration of housing within the landscape, clear boundaries and entrances to the park and an intensification of activities.

© Mecanoo

Undulating strips of individual homes and apartments define the edges of the park. The park was elevated 60 cm to mitigate the dampness of the lower lying areas. The Bijlmer Tree Edge is the transition between the park and residences: it is a fence made of trees which are stripped of their bark and placed on steel legs. The Bijlmerpark has seven classic main entrances that are characterized by three vertical gates which always remain open on either side of a horizontal gateway. “Bijlmerpark” is written in ironwork on the vertical gates, and the horizontal gateways have names that refer to the surrounding neighbourhoods including: Entrance Huntum, Entrance lierbos, Entrance Gooise side, Entrance Kelbergen and Entrance Vogeltjeswei. Just by the gates alone, the Bijlmerpark is set apart from the other city parks. The Bijlmer Paths wind like elegant ribbons through Bijlmerpark and connect the ‘cultural’ northern part of the park with the natural, ecological southern part. They pass by and even under the Karspeldreef occasionally intertwining themselves with the sidewalks surrounding the Bijlmer Park Avenues. Bijlmerpark features a range of distinctive trees, large trees like the giant sequoia and fields of special trees such as flowering Magnolias. In Bijlmerpark you can see and smell every season. The rolling parkland of the Bijlmerpark together with the variety of plantings create an experience of the space in all season. Long site lines can at times provide surprising views within the park.

Playing fields for organized sports are located in the middle of the park. These artificial grass and turf fields are somewhat hidden from the houses by trees which are placed around them. Besides sports, many other attractions are placed within the park. Along the main path are three different esplanades, the Sports and Game esplanade, the Tribune esplanade and the Nature Esplanade which all have their own identity and function. The Sport and Game esplanade is organized as a major sports and game facility in Southeast. A good view of the Great Meadow is provided by the Tribune esplanade and can be enjoyed during the Kwakoe festival or a football match. In the stands, visitors can bask in the sunshine, read a book or relax. The Nature esplanade can be enjoyed from the benches overlooking the natural pond. There are also plans to create an arboretum above the Karspelsedreef. The southern part of the park is a nature park with a lot of water, large fields with colourful plants and several bridges and banks and a deck over the water. There is also an over seven-meter high hill covered with butterfly bushes, and providing a magnificent view. From this hill you can see along with the sun’s path through the Bijlmerpark.


Landscape Architect: Mecanoo
Playground: Carve
Program: Urban and landscape design for a 32 ha park with 700 dwellings and 8 ha sports program, offices and school, first prize competition
Design 2003-2004
Implementation 2009-2011
Client: District Amsterdam Zuidoost

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