Nelson Mandelapark, by Mecanoo in Bijlmermeer, Amsterdam. With intensification in cities around the globe, more and more people are living in apartments with little access to private green space. As a result, community parks are taking on an increasingly important role in communities, acting as an extension of people’s living spaces.
Nelson Mandelapark or Bijlmerpark?
Nelson Mandelapark is a large, 32-hectare recreational park complex designed by the multi-disciplinary Dutch firm Mecanoo. The park is located in the Bijlmermeer neighborhood of Zuidoost, Amsterdam.Originally named Bijlmerpark, the park was renamed Nelson Mandelapark in 2014 to honor the former South African president after his death and to recognize his unique connection with Amsterdam. Completed in 2011, the park offers a wide variety of recreation facilities, containing more than eight hectares of sports fields alone. The project also includes the design of a multi-use community, including 700 homes, office space, and even a school. Understanding Context: The Urban Renewal of Bijlmermeer Bijlmermeer is a neighborhood in the borough of Zuidoost, designed and built during the 1960s and 1970s to accommodate growth in the city. Designed in the typical utopian modernist style of the time, the neighborhood is characterized by the collection of nearly identical mid- and high-rise apartment buildings surrounded by large swaths of open space. The neighborhood incorporates a high proportion of low-cost and social housing. As a result, the neighborhood is extremely diverse, and houses many immigrant and low-income families. A Hotbed of Crime However, the resulting concentration of poverty, combined with poor urban design, contributed to the creation of a hotbed for crime. Then in 1992, a devastating aviation accident occurred in the neighborhood, destroying hundreds of homes and killing at least 43 people. This tragedy ended up being the catalyst for a revitalization of the entire neighborhood. Since the accident, the local government has been working hard to re-brand the neighborhood, redesigning and rebuilding housing and public space in order to improve the urban quality and safety of the neighborhood. Home to the AFC Ajax Amsterdam ArenA Today, the area is increasingly vibrant and attractive to developers, and is home to the AFC Ajax Amsterdam ArenA football stadium, as well as Amsterdam’s largest shopping center.
The Design of Nelson Mandelapark
The redevelopment of the neighborhood’s extensive parklands was a keystone project in the re-branding. Nelson Mandelapark aimed to meet the present and future needs of people living in the neighborhood. Located in such a diverse population, it was necessary for the new design to create a wide variety of recreational opportunities and programming. Luckily, designers had ample space to work with. Diverse Programming for a Diverse Population The new park has seven main entrances, each marked with a distinctive iron gateway that allows the park to be closed at nighttime. The park has an extensive network of pathways, winding through gentle hills and wetlands. With bikes being so ubiquitous to Dutch life, the park is the perfect place for a relaxing bike ride. Other Articles Showcasing Projects by Mecanoo:
- How to Transform a Road into a Spectacular Park
- The Building That Wants to be a Landscape at Delft University of Technology
- How the Aberdeen City Gardens Blend Buildings and History with the Landscape
- Landscape Architecture Now! by Philip Jodidio
- Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns by John Massengale
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