Almere, The Netherlands

Almere is considered the most successful New Town in the Netherlands. The city is only a few decades old, has almost 2000.000 inhabitants and is still developing as part of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. To fulfill this ambition, Almere does not aim to use the same top down planning methods and institutions as in the ‘70s. Rather, the city aims to transform the relation between government and residents, allowing residents to participate in many aspects of decision making. New New Towns Almere is exploring the current quest for future urbanism in Almere, ideas about the changing relationship between citizen and government and its environmental ambitions as defined for the World Horticulture Exhibition Floriade 2022.

The city council of Almere acknowledged in 2006 the opportunities for a second growth spurt. The city has the ambition to double in size; building 60.000 dwellings and creating 100.000 new jobs.

Using the ‘Cradle to Cradle’ ideas, the Almere Principles (an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable future for Almere 2030) were prepared. The Almere Principles are a manifesto that links the further development of the existing city to sustainability principles. The motto ‘People make the city’ is one of the Almere Principles. It gives citizens control over their own living environment and ensures that they can participate in decision-making. In this respect, Almere opted for a fundamentally different approach to urban development. It starts from the recognition that ‘citizens are the driving force in creating, maintaining and preserving the city’. Almere aims to be a ‘laboratory of deregulation’. The emphasis changed from a final result to an ongoing process. Not the ‘result-as-goal’, but the ‘process-as-lesson’ becomes the core of further urban growth and development. Almere thus makes an equally radical and innovative shift from top-down planning to bottom-up planning.

Growing Green Cities
Another driver of innovation and urban planning in Almere is the World Horticultural Exhibition Floriade 2022. The theme of the Floriade is Growing Green Cities, focusing on four different, overlapping themes: Energising, Healthy-ing, Greening and Feeding. The exhibition will be an event showcasing innovative and state of the art projects. It will also be an urban development for which the design was made by the Dutch architect’s office MVRDV.

The Floriade permits Almere to be part of an international network of cities working to become greener, more sustainable and resilient. Almere aims to bring together knowledge and skills which are presently scattered around the world. The city also will facilitate an international dialogue in which experiences and expertise can be exchanged. The result of these dialogues should be that various innovations of feeding, greening, energizing and healthy‐ing will be put into practice in Almere, making the Green City a reality.

Almere, city center The Citadel

The city of Almere is changing the relation between the city and its residents by shifting from top down planning to a larger role for the inhabitants. In Homeruskwartier, the residents have more influence on their homes and living environment than anywhere else in the Netherlands (photo: 2012, Topview)

Almere. Ivan Nio, PhD candidate at INTI/University of Amsterdam examines suburban cities in Western Europe as a place of modernity. Can we distinguish the characteristics of the suburb in the Netherlands, France or the UK? Can suburban living be connected to concepts of modernity or is the suburb a retreat for the conservative? (photo: Ekim Tan)

Almere will organise the Floriade World Horticultural Exhibition in 2022. INTI is one of the many parties collaborating in this event and signed A Call to Action, at the conference Growing Green Cities (Venlo, September 20, 2012)