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No swimming at the Visserplein

20 August 2006 – The winner of the prestigious Prix de Rome has ambitious plans for the Visserplein, but the district has its doubts whether they are feasible. On 5 October, alderman Tjeerd Herrema and district alderwoman Anne Lize van der Stoel are supposed to reach a decision.

During a first round, the candidates for the Prix de Rome were asked to make a design for the Visserplein. Ronald Rietveld, who would eventually win the prize, came up with a city garden below ground level, with large fountains and a water basin that people can swim in.

The basin should play a role in absorbing water during heavy rainfall. Through open channels, the water should be transported from the surroundings to the basin.

In the Parool, Rietveld argued for a grand approach: “Every major city has at least one place with large fountains. Why does not Amsterdam yet? We may as well go for something big. Not just a small water tank. No, a cathedral of water, with fountains at least fifteen metres high”.

A spokesperson of the Centrum district calls the plan ‘visionary’, which is a polite way of saying that he has his doubts about the feasibility. The fact that the square is part of an important thoroughfare for traffic into the city plays an important role here.

For years, a discussion has been going on about reducing the Weesperstraat to two traffic lanes. However, especially the conservative VVD wants nothing to do with measures that would reduce car traffic. A variant with lower traffic intensity would be easier to reconcile with plans such as Rietveld’s.

Currently, civil servants are developing plans for the Visserplein. On 5 October alderman Herrema (social-democrat PvdA) and district alderwoman Van der Stoel (VVD) will discuss the issue. If they manage to reach a decision, the plans can be elaborated and presented to neighbourhood residents rather quickly.

It is quite conceivable that elements of the designs of the Prix de Rome candidates – not just Rietveld’s – will be used in the plans that are currently being developed. The plan may also resurface when residents are consulted. Among them, there seems to be some enthusiasm for Rietveld’s plan, the district acknowledges.

Another issue is the TunFun children’s paradise, which is now located below the Visserplein. The location is temporary, but it is conceivable that the TunFun will be included in the definitive plans for the Visserplein.


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