Debate – Old Public Spaces

het laatste woord

The old famous churches of Amsterdam should become public spaces again like they were in the 17th century. Currently most of them are closed off for big parts of the week. Willem wrote this article together with three others in Het Parool (a Dutch newspaper with a news-focuss on Amsterdam). It stirred up some discussion, we love to debate further about it. Feel free to comment if you speak Dutch:).

My New Favorite Places #2

Vanboven

I finished Gretchen Rubin’s ‘The Happiness Project’ a couple of weeks ago and one of the  suggestions she makes on living a more meaningful life is: leave trails. If you like a place, a book or an experience, write about it and share it with others.

This way you nail down why exactly you enjoyed it so much and that way it makes you contemplate more intense on positive things in your life. You also literally leave a trail of good experiences for others to follow when you share what kind of places or things made you feel happy.

Yesterday I worked at the lovely co-workings space VanBovenEvery Friday you can climb up the stairs of a beautiful Amsterdamse School church building in the Baarsjes neighbourhood and find the perfect quiet place to get some serious work done. It’s only 5 euro’s for the whole day and coffee, tea, fruit, cookies, chocolate are complementary.

During the rest of the week they organise little indie-concerts, exhibitions and courses. Love this concept, definitely plan to go there more often.

BenchesCollective turns street into outdoor cafe

BankjesCollectief-1

I’m rediscovering my roots these days now I’m back in Amsterdam. One of the things I missed while living in Asia, is the European culture of eating/drinking outdoors. Naturally I was thrilled when I read this week about an amazing initiative in the city: BankjesCollectief (BenchesCollective).

The BenchesCollective takes a typical Dutch phenomenon as a starting point: the ubiquitous privately owned benches on sidewalks in front of houses. Every first Sunday of the month in spring and summer, the collective turns the streets of Amsterdam into the ‘largest’ outdoor café in the world. The owners of the benches decide what they serve and the visitors determine the value afterwards. Of course, the menu can have food and drinks, but also activities like salsa classes, knitting workshops, and (clothing) swap sessions can be spotted near benches.

“The monthly cafe stimulates new encounters. Also, it tries to encourage people to look at public space as a shared canvas that can be colored by us all”, BenchesCollective founder Jesse Jorg explains. People abroad are invited to join the collective and ‘open’ their own bench as well. On the website you can pin your location, determine your opening hours and make a brief description of the menu at your bench and you’re set to go! Cheers to old and new friends!

My New Favorite Places #1

hallen

What makes you feel at home in a city? At the moment I’m in a period of transition myself and this questions keeps popping up in my personal reflections. For me it’s not specifically my house but definitely my neighbours, and I need to have enough inspiring ‘third places’ around. Places that are not home or work where you feel like you’re part of a bigger community.

One of those places that we discovered last week in Amsterdam Oud-West is called “De Hallen” (The Halls). It’s a really cool mix of a food-court, cinema, library, coffee-shop and some artsy workshops combined in an former tram depot: “Tram depot the Halls is a national monument and has historically been a closed enclave in the late nineteenth-century expansion of Amsterdam. The Halls is a traditional, functionalistic complex build for the maintenance of the first electric trams around 1900.”

The building was in a deplorable state when we left Amsterdam 3.5 years ago. But now it’s a super lively place. I really like how they transformed this heritage building in public space that works. Especially the Food-concept: we’ve been back twice already! De Foodhallen is inspired by ‘indoor food markets’ from different metropolitan cities (like Hong Kong:)). You can enjoy a large variety of delicious bites and drinks from different stalls in an industrial-like setting.

Small House Furniture

telephone seat

This weekend we said goodbye to our current apartment in Kennedy Town, Hong Kong. We will move back to our much smaller place in Amsterdam end of January. Of course we had to get rid of a lot of stuff and surprisingly that felt very good. I like to travel ‘light’ in life. And it’s a lot of fun to brainstorm with my architect husband about refurbishing those 55m2. This vintage telephone seat from the sixties inspired me somehow: desk/seat/storage in one, and the looks are so lovely as well… why don’t they make these anymore:)?

Projects on Wheels

rollende keukens

I love projects on wheels. From mobile bookshops to movable workshops… the flexibility, nomad-lifestyle and sheer creativity of these ‘businesses on a budget’ just really appeals to me! It’s why I hate to miss an awesome event that is taking place as we speak in Amsterdam; The Rolling Kitchen Weekend!

During this weekend, dozens of mobile kitchens descend upon a park in the west of Amsterdam to create an enormous open air restaurant! People hunt around for favourite dishes and pick up their order at the most amazing food trucks, RV’s, caravans, VW busses and tricycles. A couple of my favorites in terms of looks (sadly I could only drool on pics this year:))

– De koffiekever: a lovely small coffee & tea shop in a tiny olive green kever built in 1982 ready to serve the best organic coffee and create some good vibes. Love how the guys put a lot of effort in the details as well (like their outfits with the bow-ties and braces… nice!). Check out more about them here.

– Buskruid: this soupbus, a converted old fire-truck, also really stole my heart. Bus-kruid means ‘bus-herbs’ but in Dutch it also means ‘gunpowder’. This van is all about simple but fresh dishes and you can book Buskruid to cater your party at any location.

If you still want to go to Rolling Kitchens, today is your last chance. If you do go, tell the vendors that they can drive all the way to Hong Kong if they feel like a real adventure. I’ll welcome them with open arms:).

Trend: First One-Person Restaurant

eenmaal

Two more weeks and I’m off to my hometown Amsterdam. Yeahh! Unfortunately too late to enjoy this pop-up restaurant Eenmaal: the worlds first single-seating only restaurant. But the ideas behind this social design project, done in Amsterdam by Marina van Goor, are worth a blogpost.

Eenmaal is a double play on words in Dutch, it can be translated as ‘one-time’ or ‘one meal’. Marina’s aim is to deal with the stigma associated with dining alone, an act many look at as an anti-social: ‘Eenmaal tries to give a breath of peace and quietude to what can, on occasion, be a hectic (and loud) dining culture. The restaurant relates to the impetus for disconnecting and disengaging from the hyper connected world at large.’

I think the last quote is ‘spot on’. We’re going to see a lot more similar dining concepts in the future.