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Local craftsmanship in a rapidly transforming area


About the pilot area



Historically known for shipbuilding and repair, the neighbourhood of Amsterdam Noord has emerged as a rapidly transforming hub for circular activities and innovation. Despite its industrial nature, the neighbourhood maintains 7.6% green space share, with a population density of 1,778 people per square kilometer, accommodating a diverse mix of communities and industries. The heritage status of certain parts of the neighbourhood such as Buiksloterham and the NDSM-werf bridges the gap between industrial history and a sustainable future. 


Buiksloterham, as one of the last industrially utilized areas in Noord, acts as an inner-city production center and an important neighbourhood for closing the loop on urban waste streams through remanufacturing, recovery and recycling.


However the pressing need for housing in the Amsterdam area has led to the conversion of remaining industrial land into residential use, presenting the neighborhood with challenges such as the termination of rental contracts for small business and makers in the area. Additionally, the neighborhood faces other issues including the low availability of green spaces, industrial pollution and gentrification. 

For the CENTRINNO Cartography, WAAG, Pakhuis de Zwijger and HMC (the local wood and furtniture college) have set out to portrait local makers and highlight their contribution towards local circularity. The goal of Amsterdam’s Cartography is to become an integral part of Maakschap Amsterdam - a lobbying forum for Amsterdam’s makers developed throughout the project. Maakschap Amsterdam has the mission to communicate to local policy makers why makers are needed to achieve the city’s circular economy goals.


Amsterdam's urban challenges

  • Housing - lack of living and working space for affordable prices

  • Soil pollution - former industrial activities leave soils polluted and inadequate for circular land use

  • Land use change - green space is disappearing

  • Economic inclusion - disappearance of makers 

Which insights have been gathered by our local context detectives?

Read through our gallery of local anecdotes, research findings and in-depth analysis 

Detective's Findings

Soils never forget


Amsterdam, Nethlerlands - Soils in Amsterdam are largely polluted. According to soil zone maps of the city, Noord has several sites with industrial soils, classified as very contaminated. Some are even Zone 7, counting as severely contaminated.


In Noord, contamination with zinc, nickel and copper mostly traces back to industrial activities. But lead contamination, which is also a major issue in Amsterdam, is mostly an issue around the ring road from leaded fuel combustion and in post-war neighbourhoods where lead paint was still used.


Remediating this soil by simply replacing the polluted soil with new soil, is a costly intervention. Luckily, there are other methods for soil regeneration. For example, the former industrial shipyard De Ceuvel uses phytoremediation of soils, which involves the introduction of certain crops and plants that naturally clean the polluted soil. This space for experimentation is well appreciated by the city government, also due to its further sustainability goals and community work. Yet, De Ceuvel is facing closure due to the ending temporary rental contract and the need for new-built housing in the area.


Zones 5, 6 & 7 are usually seen as polluted. Source: Bodemkwaliteit - Maps Amsterdam

Parallel to Amsterdam’s efforts to understand city and neighbourhood-wide urban challenges, the team has embarked on a journey to get to know the local maker community, their resources and concerns

Who was mapped


Businesses in repair and remanufacture


  • To build a sense of trust with local stakeholders

  • To understand the challenges of local makers with respect to urban development

  • To identify existing circular makers and potential new connections 

  • To map the disappearance of makers in the future

How was it useful for the Amsterdam pilot team?

  • Created maps that could be used in public discussions with policy makers

  • Embedded maps on Maakschap Amsterdam - a platform that unites makers to lobby for inclusive policy making

The mapping of makers in Noord was done by a dedicated team member who used an interview guide in informal conversations with makers

What local resources were mapped?

Waste streams

Tools & equipment


What else was asked?

  • Length and renewal status of current rental contracts

  • Space requirements

  • Existing involvement in Circular Economy initiatives

How was data collected?

  • In-person informal interviews, collected by a dedicated team member during two summers

Lessons learned

  • A dedicated mapping champion who can engage in direct conversations with individuals facilitates the process

  • The cartography made the large set of data easy to visualize and share with stakeholders

  • The visual representation helps to communicate the story effectively and engage with the community 

Which circular opportunities were identified or explored for further research?

  • Space sharing - The pilot identified other existing development initiatives that work as a community-based land trust to lock in land for circular makers and community project. Together, they have explored the opportunity of a sharing model for tools, space and infrastructure for local productive businesses.

  • Open Workshops - The pilot engaged local studios and workshops across Amsterdam Noord in regular open evenings to bring more visibility to makers and their value for urban life.

  • Circular Neighbourhood Show -  Engagement of local schools in which students designed circular products

  • Makers of Noord Exhibition - Neighbourhood portraits of local (circular) makers to increase visibility of makers in Noord

  • Connecting policy makers with makers - During the final year of CENTRINNO, Maakschaap Amsterdam has become an active alliance in which makers unite to lobby for better policy making for makers in Amsterdam. Read one maker's emotional plea for spaces for makers on the CENTRINNO Living Archive


Soil quality
Neighbourhood Types of Amsterdam
Ateliers in Noord
Housing inflation
Material Flow Analysis
Zoning of Amsterdam Noord
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