Amsterdam and the General Expansion Plan: 1935, 1958, 2006, 2017

A Better City presented an enthusiastic quest to build a better future for everyone in society: Amsterdam’s General Expansion Plan (AUP). The plan was developed in the 1930s, and after the war, it resulted in a doubling of the city’s size through the addition of the western garden suburbs, the areas known as Buitenveldert and Watergraafsmeer, and parts of the city’s northern section. The AUP – whose spiritual father was W.A. de Graaf (1880–1970), and whose chief designers were Cornelis van Eesteren (1897–1988) and Jakoba Mulder (1900–1988) – has been of vital importance to Amsterdam’s spatial and social development.

But the AUP has had an eventful history. The exhibition was therefore comprised of four period rooms that took visitors to the years 1935, 1958, 2006 and 2017. During the journey, they learned about the passion that drove the effort to create a city with plenty of light and greenery for the working class. They also found out about local residents’ fight to preserve Dutch postwar heritage. And they were able to eavesdrop on some occasionally heated discussions, thanks to an audio play.

Exhibition design: Studio Roel Huisman
Graphic Design: Studio Adriaan Mellegers
Audio play and audio design: Jeroen Stout
Introductory video: Marit Geluk

17 March – 16 July 2017: De Bazel, Amsterdam
Client: EFL-Stichting and City of Amsterdam’s Monuments and Archaeology

Period room 2017

What’s it like living in the AUP today? We asked residents of the western garden cities, Buitenveldert in the south, and Watergraafsmeer to the east. They’re involved in their neighbourhoods in a range of ways, from working as an entrepreneur, a quartermaster and a rubbish picker to being a cultural heritage preservation activist.

Period room 1935

Period room 1958

Period room 2006

Photos: Mike Bink