On September 28, the Hello Zuidas team spoke with its members about the impact of COVID-19 on Zuidas. In recent months, many companies and institutions in the area have been busy with plans and protocols to adapt their business operations to all necessary measures. How do they look back on this time? And how do they see the future? Speaking: RAI Amsterdam, ABN Amro, VU, Maarsen Group and the City of Amsterdam.
Flexibility in the layout of office buildings
ABN Amro was at the cradle of the development of Zuidas. From the head office at Gustav Mahlerplein, more than 6,000 employees worked for the corona virus. The situation now looks very different. Employees mainly work from home.
According to Petran van Heel, Sector Banker Construction and Real Estate at ABN AMRO, this enormous change in capacity demand makes you think. It is suspected that offices in Zuidas will not shrink so quickly. However, many office users, just like ABN Amro, will consider how they will divide the building internally and externally. Flexibility is a requirement here.
House construction is also adapting designs
Ton Boon, Director of Development at Maarsen Groep (among others involved in the development of Hourglass, Gershwin Brothers and Noma House) also recognizes the search for a new layout of buildings. Customization has already been provided for some time in residential construction. There is a possibility that the corona crisis will permanently change housing design. You can think of the standard inclusion of work and study places in living plans.
The trend to transform office buildings into residential buildings will not be an issue in Zuidas for the time being. After all, there is still a lot of building land to forgive. A lot of housing has been added to Zuidas in the past 5-10 years. And that trend continues. The opportunities for Zuidas now mainly lie in the realization of affordable housing to stimulate the diversity of the residential area. Various tenders are now available for this.
2021: connection between VU and city district will be even stronger
Flexibility has also been demanded from all educational institutions in the country in recent months. This also applies to the Free University in Zuidas. Josja van der Veer, Director of the Facility Campus Organization and chair of the Supervisory Board of the Hello Zuidas foundation, sees an enormous impact of the necessary measures on students and employees. In addition to the transition to digital education, the focus of the VU is now also on the well-being of these groups. The campus is a meeting place. Everyone misses those meetings. Location-based education will continue in Zuidas, but the majority of students and staff are currently working and studying from home.
The Campus of the VU is also subject to significant changes. For example, it will have a new entrance and the development of a new research building and laboratory building has started. The latter make a very important contribution to Zuidas as an Innovation District. In 2021, the link between the VU and the Zuidas district will be further strengthened with the realization of a new theater, cinemas and Sapiens (in collaboration with The Edge and Naturalis). Residents of the city district are thus increasingly involved in this important knowledge institution in our city district.
Contributing increasingly to the diversity and liveliness of Zuidas
Further involvement in Amsterdam and Zuidas is also a goal of RAI Amsterdam for the future. Pauline Bottema-Sanders, General Council at RAI Amsterdam and new chair-to-be for the Supervisory Board of Hello Zuidas, outlines the enormous impact of RAI's activities on the city of Amsterdam, the Zuidas district and the surrounding area. When a major international event was organized in the RAI in recent years, hotels were sometimes fully booked up to Den Bosch. Impact on such a scale presents tremendous opportunities for employment, hotel occupancy and restaurant bookings.
What more can RAI with its knowledge and capacities mean more for Amsterdam and Zuidas in particular in the future? The answer will lie in the opportunities for the commercial spaces, offices around the building and logistics. The focus is on improving the layout of the space around the building. In this way, RAI can continue to contribute to the diversity of the Zuidas users and the liveliness of the area in the future.
It's a matter of keeping everyone involved
Municipalities look to the long term, which means they are almost trained to see through a crisis. Nevertheless, the impact of this crisis on people's lives is enormous. In addition to the economic impact, you also see the social impact. Singles are currently having a hard time, according to David van Traa, director of the Zuidas municipality of Amsterdam. Where young people often live together, single elderly people are more easily isolated due to the call to stay at home and the lack of distraction. The municipality is doing everything it can to keep these people involved.
Stimulating liveliness and realizing attractive public space are assignments that have become increasingly urgent. It is welcome that the area is moving from high end to more accessible. The Conservatory 's plans to come to Beatrixpark contribute to this.