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

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