IJburg as planned by the government and professionals

The Blue House

The Blue House invites artists all over the world to interact with the residents of IJburg.

The outcome of a workshop

Flowers for IJburg

Day One: Design and Alternative Process

Jeanne van Heeswijk          
(of The Blue House, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)


In her presentation, Jeanne van Heeswijk introduced her current projects, The Blue House (Het Blauwe Huis), which is a “housing association for the mind, a platform for experimental community”. Through this project, she discussed on how to trigger a community to participate in creating a history of their own experimental environment.

Jeanne first reviewed that Netherlands had a long history of centralized planning and large-scale residential development. This tradition makes it difficult for residents to have a say in the creation of their own living environment, let alone to build their own house. Besides that, planning is more and more under a doctrine of mono functionality and segregation, which precludes the possible of civic or community life in any form.

IJburg is also a well-planned, leaving nothing to change. But some qualities such as history, stories, life and beating heart, was not and cannot be planned on the drawing board. Jeanne van Heeswijk took a 3-story building at IJburg, it became the Blue House. It serves as a site for the residents to imagine and experiment the development of their community.

The Blue House has invited artists, architects and scientists all over the world to take residency in the past several years. She stated that it was a place for the unexpected and uncontrolled, for exchange and dialogue. Jeanne saw the Blue House as the ideal platform for research on how a new district took shape and the way in which people went about using, appropriating and changing the public space as well as how a cultural history came into being.

Jeanne thought that temporary amenities could break through this doctrine without requiring large-scale urban interventions. At the same time these could be an answer to the total absence of amenities in the formative years of places such as IJburg.

In this vein, they started a series of projects called the Parade of Urbanity. One of its examples is Flowers for IJburg. A street trader wanted to start a flower stall on IJburg. When asked for permission, it turned out that the city council had not done street trade regulation for the island yet. Because of the eight-square-meter in front of the house being private ground, The Blue House provided it as a flower stall.

Jeanne explained that The Parade of Urbanity functioned as a kind of acupuncture by animating the public life and the availability of amenities in such areas on a small but highly effective scale. This form of instant urbanism can operate where needed and can link people places.

For more details about The Blue House, please read Jeanne van Heeswijk's essay.
Downloading the essay.


Jeanne van Heeswijk (Schijndel, The Netherlands, 1965) is a visual artist who creates contexts for interaction in public spaces. 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.

One of her recent project, The Blue House (Het Blauwe Huis), is located at IJburg, Amsterdam, a new community without history. The Blue House is a house association for the mind, a platform for research on experimental communities. Between 2005 and 2009, a selection of artists, architects and scientists worldwide will take residency. By actively involving the community in their work, they are going to create a cultural infrastructure with the house as a base and engage in a continuous exchange. The goal of this project is to develop a collevtive environment in which the community actively participates and which makes them aware that they can add stories to their own experimental environment.

Website: www.jeanneworks.net; www.blauwehuis.org


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