TAKING THE INITIATIVE
By 2025, Amsterdam aims to be among Europe’s top three regions for innovation by making itself smart, healthy and green
Amsterdam aims to be among Europe’s top regions for innovation
Ashort walk from Amsterdam Centraal station, where the new direct Eurostar service from London comes gliding in, is coworking space Spring House. From the back, you can see the tracks and hear the rumbling of the trains, while from the front there are views of the River IJ, Amsterdam’s waterfront.
The area was once less than salubrious, associated with drugs and prostitution. But Spring House – a former distillery and tin can factory – was given a new lease on life when it was saved from dereliction by a group focused on creating social change within the city. Open since 2015, Spring House now has more than 200 members, plus a buzzing ground-floor restaurant called Choux that is proving popular with its neighbors.
Spring House was founded by Vandejong Creative Agency, independent curator Joanna van der Zanden and Kennisland, an incubator for societal innovation. With its vibrant red frontage and interior adorned with mid-century leather sofas, art books and pot plants, the aim was to provide a setting for “sharing ideas and putting them into action.” At the very least, it’s a pleasant, light-filled place to settle down with a laptop.
Over a cup of herbal tea, Thijs van Exel, social innovation advisor for Kennisland, explains, “We got some funding from a very benign government that saw the need for rejuvenation of this area. There is a lot of room for entrepreneurs to do new and innovative things. You can get things done really quickly. And [travel booking website] Booking.com is opening a new office at the end of the street. It has plenty of money, so it must have chosen this site for a reason – there is something interesting going on.”
By 2025 the Amsterdam metropolitan area intends to become one of the top-three most
ABOVE LEFT: The exterior of Spring House ABOVE RIGHT:
Its interiors are peppered with comfortable leather seating and pot plants