Amsterdam is famous for its canals and old buildings but the city has also a relatively rich collection of modern architecture. One of them is Kleiburg, in Amsterdam Southeast, a building with more than 500 apartments.

Kleiburg is part of Bijlmermuseum, an open-air and living museum consisting of a built environment (6 appartment buildings, 1100 meter metro viaduct, and green space) that has been built between 1967 and 1972 in the area called Bijlmermeer, Amsterdam Southeast. Since 2019 all elements and areas of the Bijlmermuseum gain status as the protected cityscape of Amsterdam. 

The apartment building of Kleiburg was built in 1969 and ready in 1971.  The whole building was closed from January 2009 until 2012 for a new plan. Finally, it was destinated as a self-renovated project between 2013-2016 where buyers purchased a basic empty living space ready for renovations.

All six apartment buildings in the Bijlmermuseum are renovated but Kleiburg was renovated in a different way. The idea of the renovation was gained through competition and the winner, Consortium de Flat, was entitled to buy the 511 apartments of Kleiburg for 1 euro and also entitled to realize their ideas for renovation.

One of the ideas was that the apartment building had to be presented in its original look, a colossal grey, and clean-cut concrete. As the project developer, they had rights and responsibilities to renovate the outer side of the building, while each buyer of the apartment was responsible for the internal and individual renovation of their own apartment.

The empty and basic living space of Kleiburg was sold in a relatively affordable price, the buyers have all the freedom to transform their apartment to their needs and tastes, and  the influx of new apartment buyers to the area saved Kleiburg from demolition. 

These positive developments were recognized when Kleiburg received the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture- Mies van der Rohe Award in 2017. For the first time, a project in the Netherlands received this prestigious award.

Move forward to 2021. Reality check showed that the revival of Kleiburg was not only a matter of architectural renovation, it brought social-economic dynamics, too.

The City District of Amsterdam Southeast would like to gain lessons learned from the renovation and revival of Kleiburg through independent research. I was humbled to be trusted with this assignment and I conducted the  research between November 2021 and March 2022.

There were two questions that were addressed by the research:

1.      Is the renovation of Kleiburg as a self-renovated apartment building successful? This concerns the period of initiation and planning, the period of realization, and the period of living and management;

2.      What influence has the renovation of the Kleiburg and the influx of new residents in the neighborhood had?

It has been an immense learning process for me as an independent researcher. I have gained new knowledge, experience, and network. I was also forced to think, read, and write in Dutch, the fifth language in my daily life. I received a lot of support and help from many people. I am deeply thankful to them, and also to the City District of Amsterdam Southeast which has opened up the door for one of its citizens.

If you are interested in the details of the research please contact me directly. 

Kleiburg, 1990
(Stadsarchief Amsterdam, Alberts, Martin)


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