Holland is full. Amsterdam is full. So when the Dutch need somewhere to put new housing, they think about all that wasted sea-bed just lying there waiting for people to live on it.
The new development at Ijburg has been years in the making and is still a work in progress. Building began in 1997 on six artificial islands east of the Amsterdam city centre. To see how things were coming along, Mevrouw T and I rode the bikes over the Ij Bridge, locally known as the BH-Brug or Bra Bridge, thanks to its two bulges.
We found plenty of innovative architecture and imaginative solutions to the problem of building over the water.
It must be said that Ijburg is not yet a ‘gezellig’ (‘cosy’) suburb. That takes time to develop. But when we stopped for a coffee by the marina, a few older boats moored next to the modern motor launches added to the atmosphere.
Our verdict? Ijburg is not yet somewhere we’d like to live. The planners are doing their best to make it family- and resident-friendly, but it still feels too new and cold for our taste. Naming Ijburg’s artificial beach ‘Blijburg’ (‘Happy Town’) sounds like they are trying a little too hard.
An Ijburg cemetery is planned as part of the development. Will there be a rush to be the first to be buried there?
Ijburg is nonetheless a very interesting place to visit for a look at the Dutch future. Everyone knows about Amsterdam’s quaint 17th century canal houses, and a trip past them in a glass-topped Rondvaart boat is an essential tourist experience.
For those with a little more time in the country, the modern architecture in the Netherlands is also worth looking out for. We’ll be taking more of our visitors to Ijburg in future.