Walking Tour of Ijberg

On the fifth day of the trip our class, led by a tour guide, explored Ijberg. The district of Ijberg is a family-oriented residential neighbourhood to the east of central Amsterdam. Fifty years ago, the whole area was just water of the Ij Lake, and twenty years ago it was decided to start construction on the project. The island was made from landfill, with two more being built in the future. There are 2 gigantic dikes between Ijberg/Amsterdam and the ocean, further aiding the task of water control in Ijberg. The world’s soon-to-be largest lock (replacing The Noordersluis lock), will be located to the west, at the entrance of the North Sea Canal.

In the Netherlands, every square centimetre is planned and used by three tiers of government. The tiers (called waterboards), are water management, flood safety, and waste management. Ijberg is a very precisely planned area that deals with each of these tiers.

After crossing the Enneüs Heerma Bridge/the Bra Bridge, we met our tour guide, Johan. We looked at floating and stilted houses on the locked-off water body. These houses are meant to be extensions of their owner’s creativity. Many were two-storey, box designs, yet how the owners altered the materials or basic design of it set them apart from their creatively different neighbours. We then walked along a residential street with more of the ‘make it your own’ house ideology. Every house was different in a unique way, contrasting with practically all of North America’s suburban housing sprawl development. This street had a good amount of bike parking – families and their children were playing in the street. Ijberg is constructing Syrian refugee housing to top it off. These houses will apparently be very affordable with cheaper building materials. It also does not hurt that the wage gap in Netherlands is much smaller than Canada’s. Lastly, our group walked along several footbridges and by open, natural greenspace (being Diemerpark). This park had a well-used sports facility, and was inhabited by rabbits and unfortunately for them, foxes. The park was built on a garbage dump however, resulting in it being the most polluted places in the Netherlands at a past time. The contaminated soil was covered with clay and foil before being turned into the park it is today. There are more trees growing here than in downtown Amsterdam. More trees results in more birds, which in turn results in less bugs.

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