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!
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.
Last Monday I did something extremely fun. I went on a Foodwalk with my clients and friends from Urban Discovery. Earlier this year I wrote more about their amazing heritage preservation work and effortshere but this Foodwalk just opened my eyes for a whole new level of ‘food heritage’ adventures that Hong Kong has to offer.
If you’re looking for great stories to tell to friends and family, you should definitely spend a night in Jordan area with one of the excellent guides of Urban Discovery. I got to know a lot of new fun facts about Hong Kong streetfood and received that extra push to try some weird but amazing dishes as well! This foodwalk has the perfect blend of indoor and outdoor eateries (you visit a total of 5 places). Highlights were a beautiful herbal teashop and eating snake soup!!
I like how the Urban Discovery guide Edmund managed to create a casual atmosphere but still was able to share a lot of super cool stories and experiences, bringing you to places you couldn’t manage to find on your own. Truly a night that will shape my food memories of Hong Kong! Find more info on the Foodwalk and Urban Discovery here.
Work in progress… I’m mapping my city for a client. While working I listened to several TED talks about the cities we live in. This one is my favorite, a great lecture by James Howard Kunstler about how public spaces in cities should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good.
It was a joy to work today… I love my home-city Hong Kong:).
Urban Discovery is one of my favorite companies in Hong Kong, just because what they do lies so close to my own interests as well. They combine some of my favorite topics like architecture, heritage, love for the city and education and mix all those things in very cool educative tools like food-walks, heritage-walks, apps, products etc.
I made a logo for them that is flexible and that covers the broad range of things UD is busy with. The logo is ‘map’ of Urban Discovery: every single product or service, has a different route through the knowledge and creativity of the company. Like it;-)?
The fact that I always like conversations with architects might explain why I married one;-). I find it just interesting how they think in terms of space, urban challenges and society in general (or a combinations of those three;-)). The client I made this business card for, is also one of those visionary architects with dreams for our city Hong Kong. Love that!
The concept of the card is, that receivers can create their own skyline: a ‘Do it yourself’ city. It communicates how we all have choices in creating our environment. With a little bit of help from urban designers and architects we might even be able to change the world… that is: in a physical sense;-).