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NDSM- past, present, future(?)

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The ecosystem of the NDSM site changes permanently. Until the end of the 70s the area was used by the heavy industry: For half a century the site gave home to one of the world’s biggest shipbuilding companies. After its closure decades of decay came. In the late 90s a new sector gained a foothold in the abandoned halls: The creative. The appearance of artists from different fields brought about a shift in the character of the former shipyard. However, the area is not only an inspiring workplace for artists: festivals, workshops, different performances, markets and other culture related public events have made the area an important cultural scene in the life of Amsterdam. The free and creative atmosphere, and of course the advantageous features (close to the center, relatively cheap prices) made the area attractive to commercial companies, like MTV Networks as well, that built its headquarters here in 2007. That moment seems to be the dawn of a new era of the NDSM site: The era of commercial companies and real-estate developers. Does this mean that the vivid cultural life and underground activities at the site disappear in the near future? Is there a chance to create a balanced relationship between artists and commercial companies?

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The main challenge of this project is to create the design of a place where collaboration between the creative sector and the commercial companies could evolve. This collaboration ought to bring new opportunities to the wider public to spend their time at the wharf. Let’s see the concrete activities and the parties involved in the project: Media companies on the NDSM area have the financial resources to support the art incubator character of the NDSM site. But do they have any interest to do it?

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MTV Networks as a company could call for artists and other creative thinkers to execute research projects dealing with issues about the relationship of media and society. The research projects should require active participation of the target groups of MTV: children and the youth. Classes from schools, but other visitors as well could take part in workshop events led by the artist. The topics of these workshops ought to focus on how different issues like creative thinking, environmentalism, self-consciousness, sensitivity to social issues could be implemented into TV and other media programs. Notes: There are already artist in Kunstad dealing with kids: Rianne van Duin, Kinderatalier

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Benefits of media companies (Viacom International): These edutaining workshops would give useful feedbacks for the media companies about how to shape their programs and marketing campaigns in a responsible and socially sensitive way. Supporting such a facility would give participating media companies an image of promoting culture, being conscious about their role in the shaping of how coming generations see the world.

Benefits of artists (Kunststad): This place could give opportunities to emerging artists to develop their professional career with the sponsorship of multinational media companies. The situation could be inspiring as artists are not forced to obey the rules of art market in order to make a living. They are free to create research-based experimental projects, which are not supposed to make direct profit, as it is up to the media companies to make profit of the findings of artists.

Benefits of the youth(local people from Amsterdam): Kids taking part in the workshop events both have a good time together and learn as well. They can have a deeper insight of how the media works, and what impact it has on their everyday lives. They can acquire a critical, self-conscious attitude toward tv programs.

In an indirect way the outcomes and findings of the workshop events can influence the young generations of whole Europe, as the results could be embedded into the programs of MTV, Nickelodeon or Comedy Central.

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program of MEDIA LAB

temporary workshop spaces

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Workshop spaces constitute the main elements of the project. The character of activities can vary in a high scale as they depend on the creative minds of the artists who organize them. The architecture should be able to respond to the different demands, which change fast (workshops are only temporary). Thus spaces should have a great flexibility, rather than a permanent geometry. That is why the exact number of workshop rooms cannot be defined as they are proposed to be joinable and separable.

users: 6-18 year-old youngsters from primary and secondary schools.

usage type: eventually, only for one or a few day-long.

flexibility rate: high

publicity rate: depends on the workshop topic

showroom area on the landscape

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Documentations of temporary workshop projects could be collected and placed in a place easily accessible to anyone. It could serve as the database or the memory of the building and the NDSM site as well. It would be an important function to improve the public character of the building. users: anyone usage type: mainly eventually but can be regular as well. publicity rate: high

staff offices, and storage rooms

users: staff

usage type :regular

flexibility: low

toilets and other service places, machinery

no flexibility


-Supporting a program like MEDIA LAB would probably fit to the policy of Viacom International. The company pushes great efforts to help its target groups in many different fields: supporting education, creating opportunities for young talents or promoting healthy eating habits.

concrete examples here

-Kinetisch Noord has an aim to create collaboration between international corporations and local artists at NDSM in order to sustain the vibrant cultural atmosphere of the site. This is what Roel de Jong, managing director of Kinetisch Noord in 2007 says in an article.

-There is already a program specially for children from 6-12 at NDSM. Kinderatelier serves as a good example that a program for children can be succesful at NDSM. Kinderatelier is organized only on weekends at the moment. The program of Kinderatelier is different from the one of MEDIA LAB. So, there would be no rivalry but a symbiothic collaboration, which is a much better alternative. MEDIA LAB will attract more children to NDSM, which would be beneficial to Kinderatelier as well. So the two programs complement each other.


Being on the borderline of art related places and commercial companies the only still abandoned warehouse at the site seems to be suitable for a project, which is trying to find collaboration between the two main user group of the site.

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- Rianne van Duin

- Maurits Homan

- Cup of coffee at MTVNetworks

- Playground at NDSM wharf

- Pigfarm at NDSM wharf

site inspections

interview with Rianne van Duin and Maurits Homan
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