urban matters


The Blue House

The Blue House

In 1996, the Amsterdam City Council decided to proceed with the construction of Ijburg, a residential area on a cluster of manmade islands. Set for completion in 2012, the new district will provide 18.000 dwellings for 45.000 residents. Typical of a new habitat like Ijburg is that the entire project is devised in the conference room and on the drawing board and in this process, nothing is left to chance. But some qualities and elements, such as a history and social and human history stories, life and a beating heart, must grow and cannot be planned on the drawing board or built by a contractor.
The planning methodology of Ijburg, which created such rigorously regulated, zoned expansion districts, has attracted much criticism. At Van Heeswijks initiative, Het Blauwe Huis (The Blue House) (2005), situated at centre of Housing Block 35 on Ijburg, was taken off the market for a period of at least four years, to establish it as a house for culture and research into the development and evolution of history and experimental communities a spot that cannot be regulated within a living environment planned down to the last millimeter, a place for exchange and dialogue.
Van Heeswijk invited artists, architects, thinkers, writers and scholars of various nationalities to live and work in Het Blauwe Huis in time modules they decided. They actively entered into a dialogue with one another, with their fellow Ijburg residents, and with the public. Their assignment was to make a connection to their world and the world surrounding the house, which must be communicated in a visual way. By actively involving others to their work, they create a cultural infrastructure around the house, with a continuous exchange between the inhabitants.
Because of its position on Ijburg, het Blauwe Huis was the ideal platform for research into how a new district takes shape and the way in which people go about using , appropriating and changing the public space as well as how a cultural history comes into being. Block 35 is one of the first Ijburg sections. Het Blauwe Huis therefore followed the development of Ijburg and this new community up close. This combination of location and a particular moment in time, coupled with the opportunity to be temporary resident of Ijburg, offered the participants an ideal platform for studying, acting on and co-designing its public space. By describing and simultaneously intervening in everyday life in this area. Het Blauwe Huis facilitated the acceleration and intensification of the process of developing a cultural history.

Participants: 41 the first year
Visitors: 10.000 the first year
Number of Events: 50 the first year

Out of the Blue – symposium on Instant Urbanism, Hospitality and Accelerated History in Amsterdam

Jeanne van Heeswijk

(1965 Schijndel, the Netherlands)
Jeanne van Heeswijk is a visual artist who creates contexts for interaction in public space. Her projects distinguish themselves through a strong social involvement. With her work Van Heeswijk stimulates and develops cultural production and creates new public (meeting-) spaces or remodels existing ones. To achieve this she often works closely with artists, designers, architects, software developers, governments and citizens. She regularly lectures on topics such as urban renewal, participation and cultural production.


Video Jeanne van Heeswijk and Dennis Kaspori at Vakmanstad – NAi – 2008

The Blue House


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