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Column Marianne Loof | Plan Zuid versus Diemen Zuid

22 March 2016

Cobouw marianne loof 160419 plan zuid versus diemen zuid

This April has marked the 100th anniversary of the Amsterdam School. The Stedelijk Museum, museum The Ship, and the Amsterdam Centre for Architecture (Arcam) all participate in a year of celebration with exhibitions and events.

Of course the real-life exhibition is simply found on the streets. Berlage’s 1920’s urban expansion plan at the south side of Amsterdam, ‘Plan Zuid’, enjoys a worldwide reputation. It is unparalleled, and undoubtedly part of Dutch national heritage.

There is a slight discomfort, therefore, in the fact that Plan Zuid has no protective status higher than for example South Diemen, or any other ordinary district of the city. Yes, there are individual monuments in Plan Zuid, but the entirety of its urban planning and architecture remains underappreciated and vulnerable to a host of possible developments that are permitted at a national level.

A World Heritage nomination would perhaps be too much, although plenty of arguments can be found in favor, but surely we should like to protect this treasure more. The least would be to recognize it as a Protected Cityscape, much like The Hague’s ‘Statenkwartier’ and ‘Benoordenhout’ or Amersfoort’s ‘Bergkwartier.’

Indeed, the Dutch government previously pursued this recognition, in 2012, when Plan Zuid was designated as Protected Cityscape. Unfortunately, the district council at the time decided against it, and dropped the matter. Today the question would be in the hands of the city council. But whose call should this be, actually? Whose cultural heritage is this; the Amsterdammers’, the district’s, the city’s, the state’s, or the world’s?

April 2016,