NIEUW en MEER community
The story of how a community of squatters
came to shape the landscape of Holland’s cultural future
In response to Amsterdam’s housing crises in the early 1960s many people turned to squatting to secure themselves a home. This trend began when a number of local activists started to draw attention to the uninhabited apartments that were scattered throughout the city’s central neighbourhoods, these were allegedly kept in disarray by landlords in order to limit affordable housing and artificially increase renting prices…
At a loss and in need of space, artists were driven to the outskirts of the city to find creative solutions for a better life.
Originally a weapons and ammunitions depot, the Nieuw en Meer was once used for military defense. The first buildings date from 1918 and were part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam and after the last conflict in 1962, in what was then known as ‘Dutch New Guinea’, the military stores fell into disuse.
Sensing a great opportunity in June 1988, Marco Van Basten instigated a wave of collective hope across the Netherlands by squatting the first house on the terrain, declaring the buildings at Oude Haagseweg 51 (the address of the collective today) as the official base for what was the become the Nieuw en Meer. Joined by a group of activists from the squat at Conradstraat 11 after having been kicked out of the city in 1988, this crew of outlaws it seemed had finally found their a place they could call home.
A month and a half later on August 10 1988, Stichting Nieuw en Meer was founded, paving the way for the official legalization of the property. The participation of Prof. Ir. Kees Rijnboutt, who a government architect at the time, as chairman of the first board of Stichting Nieuw en Meer was of no small importance for the eventual social acceptance of the squatted complex and for the legalization process of the property.
- NEW HORIZONS -
The formal legalization that eventually took place in 1991, the lease contract between Stichting Nieuw en Meer and the City of Amsterdam inspired the beginning of extensive renovations of the space. The most dramatic of which were the two large warehouse buildings, a total floor space of 7200 m2 had to be.
transformed into more than 80 smaller individually accessible studio’s. The construction supervision was done by Casa Architects (Hein de Haan) but a large part of the work was carried out by the tenants themselves. By hand, they worked together to transform what was once an abandoned, unused ammunitions depot into a carefully divided creative hub for over 100 individuals to live and work; but more importantly, to inspire others to dedicate themselves to their vision...
(The establishment of the tenants association Niks Minder (Nothing Less) on June 24th, 1991 was the formal end of the legalization process of the former squats. The Association represents the interests of the tenants.)
For the past 30 years the N&M has functioned as a free haven attracting artists, free thinkers, activists and cultural leaders to pioneer co-creation and inspire new ways of living while exploring the cultural spectrums of diversity & biodiversity, supplying the city of Amsterdam with fresh waves of creativity, art events and nature.
- 30 Years and Still Going Strong -
When passing through the simple gate of the Nieuw en Meer community you walk through a long road shaded by trees giving the feeling that you’re journeying down the rabbit hole. Just beyond the path stand a few giant red-bricked houses which serve as home and playground to around 120 artists for the last 30 years.
What started as a small squat ended up becoming one of the largest self-sustained art communities around the city of Amsterdam.
Nearly all disciplines within the visual and applied arts and crafts are represented, such as painting, web design, guitar construction, steel work. Quite exceptionally, the space is still independently owned and managed without any form of subsidy.
- PLACES -
The Nieuwe Meer, also known as the eye of the hurricane, is one of the most unique and diverse ecosystems in Amsterdam. A meeting point and melting pot where art, nature, finance, entrepreneurship and the public all blend into one .
The N&M is a living lab; a home for different communities to explore co-existence, reinforcing and honoring healthy relationships based on harmony and respect for nature. The lab is a place to connect to and appreciate everyday life, a place to be inspired, a place to play, to experiment and to imagine. N&M is a place to be.
- STUDIOS -
Nieuw en Meer is one of the largest studio complexes of Amsterdam. The extensive grounds of 3.7 hectares is located on the outskirts of Amsterdam in a dynamic environment between the Zuidas District and Schiphol. With about 100 studios, this art park for business and pleasure contributes substantially to the creative urban landscape of Amsterdam. At the same time, there is much emphasis on the ecological values of the area.
See more at: nieuwenmeer.nl