Wildemanbuurt, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Supporting the residents’ sense of ownership and agency

The Wildemanbuurt is a social housing area in Amsterdam. A vulnerable neighborhood housing around 5000 people of 75 different nationalities, the area is marked by criminality, poverty, and a low trust in institutions. For the same reasons, in Dutch media the Wildemanbuurt is often mentioned as a problem area. But the Wildemanbuurt is so much more than that; it is an area, where people come together and make things work, despite the challenges they face. 

The Desire partners at the site, Samenwonen-Samenleven and The Beach, work to support citizen-led community projects such as urban farming and waste handling. The aim is to explore the qualities of the area in order to create a more inclusive and sustainable environment while giving the local residents a sense of ownership, belonging, and agency in the process. 

The vision for the Wildemanbuurt doesn’t limit itself to housing and ecological sustainability; it encompasses social and economic sustainability as well and achieves this both through housing and through other programming to make it a better overall living environment.

  • Stories and photos
  • The site
  • Vision

Here you find stories and slide shows from Amsterdam. Below this section, you can find the background story for the site.

FILM. Desire presents: ''Neighbourhood agency, Ownership & Passion” in Wildemanbuurt, Amsterdam

FILM: Wildemanbuurt in Amsterdam, Netherlands is a neighbourhood often depicted negatively. However, inhabitants are determined to change this narrative. The Desire project is powered by the energy of this community.

“We try to work with what is there and nurture good ideas, foster new relationships. In the end, it's really about agency and working together to create a new neighbourhood from a place of trust,” says Rosalie Bak, Community Builder and Social Designer for the Desire partner Stichting Samenwonen-Samenleven.

Have a look at the new Desire film and meet also the youngsters from Young Osdorp United that are making videos and photography to tell great stories from the area.

Read more here

Story: Creating social and inclusive housing in Amsterdam

By co-creating with residents from all walks of life, our partners can create visions for an equitable and sustainable future; one that is not just for the few, but includes everyone. - All Desire partners visited Wildemanbuurt in Amsterdam in May 2023. 

At our partner meeting in Amsterdam in May, we asked Hans Krikke from STICHTING SAMENWONEN-SAMENLEVEN to give us a short introduction to our demonstration site Wildemanbuurt in, Amsterdam. Press the icon at the bottom right of the video to expand the image and see the entire video.

The site

The Wildemanbuurt is a neighbourhood in the district of Osdorp in Amsterdam. It is situated in the Nieuw West area, a part of Amsterdam that was built in the post-war period and is considered to be a prime example of urban design following CIAM principles. It has large apartment buildings with a lot of green space and air in between them.

While this initially made the area popular with people fleeing the more hectic city centre, the flaws of these urban design ideas quickly became apparent. Mainly, the neighbourhood isn’t built at a human scale, and this has its effects on the community there.

The neighbourhood houses around 5000 people. There are a lot of elderly people, as well as a lot of children and teenagers in families with a large number of children. These families often live in relatively small houses for how many people there are. The Wildemanbuurt is also quite diverse: it is inhabited by people of 75 nationalities and of even more different cultural backgrounds. The cultural knowledge that people still carry about food and gardening, along with the fact that the Wildemanbuurt has so much green space and is situated at the edge of the city, makes it a uniquely interesting place for urban farming and community projects.

The Wildemanbuurt is also often framed in Dutch media as a problem area full of criminals. Many people live in poverty, and they feel forgotten by the municipal government and social housing corporations, who make plans and promises but often don’t end up delivering. As a result, trust in institutions is low in the neighbourhood. That said, there certainly is more to the Wildemanbuurt than crime; it is also a place where people come together and make things work, despite the challenges that they face.

Is a post-war social housing area of poor quality, a vulnerable neighbourhood (app. 5000 inhabitants) in the city.

Area qualities


The aim is to create new pathways, prototypes and processes towards new forms of meaning, imagination, shareability and realisation of an inclusive and sustainable (circular) living environment, by exploring how local qualities (high cultural diversity, high share of young and elderly people, heritage, green space, edible gardens) can integrate with policies and expertise of housing corporations.

Our vision is a neighbourhood in which the inhabitants form a close-knit community; they feel ownership over the Wildemanbuurt, they feel agency in the changes happening in the Wildemanbuurt, and they work together in making those changes. We want to promote the democratisation of public housing policy, city planning and programme making in the neighbourhood through co-design. Challenges faced by the inhabitants, such as loneliness, health, unemployment, and biodiversity are tackled by citizen-led and citizen-initiated cooperatives.

These cooperatives work from community hubs, such as Station Wildeman and The Beach, where citizens can find each other and find help navigating the institutions that the neighbourhood is beholden to. Through these hubs and other organisations, Wildeman becomes a pedagogic neighbourhood in which people can gain the skills needed to give shape to their neighbourhood.

There are opportunities to transform paved areas and low-biodiversity greenery into urban farming spaces. In particular, the courtyards between buildings would be a great place for this, as they could serve as a way to create communities out of people who live close together. Additionally, developments for the energy transition are sorely needed in the neighbourhood: houses are poorly insulated, largely use natural gas for heating and cooking, and there are still many roofs without solar panels.

Area qualities