The nine alleys which connect two of Amsterdam’s major commercial axes, the Damrak and the Nieuwendijk, hold a potential that has long been overlooked. Traditionally used as utilitarian corridors, the alleys are seen as spaces only suitable for bike parking, trash and deliveries. Even with the current extensive transformation of the Damrak, the city has not planned realised the alleys’ potential to serve as vibrant urban spaces. The general perception of alleys as unsafe, unclean ‘eyesores’ has reinforced the lack of popular and political support needed to maximize their potential as open space resources.
In 2014, Space&Matter together with Rappange & Partners and Rivet Concepts were commissioned by the Municipality of Amsterdam to research the opportunities for activating Amsterdam’s downtown alleys. De 9 Stegen stimulates a process of renewal, by giving the opportunity to designers and artists to highlight the qualities and characteristics of the alleys and help create a more exciting and vibrant network of people-oriented public spaces. The strategy commissions artists to partner with property owners and install permanent and temporary public art in the alleyways, stimulating the creation of intriguing public space and public-private relationships that, in turn, could foster new ideas for future transformations.
In a collaborative effort, institutions, companies, shop owners and citizens, work together to turn the narrow streets into places for cultural activities and education. These transformations are intended to have instant revitalization benefits for all adjacent properties.
Space&Matter is currently working on the urban strategy to implement a comprehensive five-year plan to revitalize the nine alleys. Through this work, the 9 Stegen will without a doubt become a new Amsterdam hotspot.