If a foreign tourist comes to Amsterdam, he/she might thinks how well conserved Amsterdam is. A lot of old buildings everywhere. But I found out that actually Amsterdam is not an exception from any other cities in the world who struggles to preserve its historical buildings. The battle happens here, too.

The Friends of City Centre Amsterdam (in Dutch is VVAB) is nowadays struggling to avoid demolition of two buildings, de Tweede Chirurgische Kliniek and het Zusterhuis, in a complex called Binnengasthuisterrein, in the heart of Amsterdam. University of Amsterdam wanted to demolish it for a new library. On 12 January the local authority issued a permit for the demolition and at the same day the VVAB sent an objection letter to the local government. The organization asked an architecture historian and lecturer from the University of Amsterdam, dr. Gerrit Vermeer, to draft arguments about culture and art historical values of the buldings.

The Binnengasthuisterrein (BG-terrein) should be preserved for these arguments :

1. It represents unique urban planning value as the last ground in Amsterdam where quality of space of a monastery area is still exist - in the 19th century style.

2. The whole value of the Binnengasthuisterrein as the last exceptional complex of special buildings shall dissapear if it is demolished. The rest of the buildings will lost their urban planning and historical unity and context, also because the new building doesn't refer to the old one at all.

3. The representative value for development and the typology of the hospital is very high. The BG-terrein forms a master works of the typology development of hospital in the important periods between 1870 until 1900. The whole complex will lost its most important and most striking object.

4. Due to change of functions of several buildings and especially the Chirurgische Kliniek and the adjacent Zusterhuis between architectural historical 19th century and trend of utilitarian rationalism of the 20th century, these two buildings should stay in the maintenance of architect Poggenbeek.

This petition is accompanied by a letter from Dept. of Conservation signed on behalf of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ronald Plasterk, who is against the demolition. But not only that, it is suggested, too, an alternative place as location for the new library of the UvA.

At 20th February the VVAB sent an pro-forma objection to the court, followed by objection reasons at 20th March.

Amsterdam is in 2008 in the process of application to UNESCO to be in the list of World Heritage and the city centre as bufferzone. The VVAB has warned the local authority about the consequency of the demolition. Besides that application was submitted by many stakeholders, one of them is the UvA.

Protected areas and bufferzone of Amsterdam as proposed to UNESCO World Heritage List.

The struggle to avoid the demolition apparently was done as collective efforts. Besides the VVAB, similar objections were also sent by several other groups.

Now at least I know that hard struggle to avoid demolitions not only happen in Indonesia but also in the Netherlands, right in its capital.

(resource : VVAB Nieuwsbrief, maart 2009)


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