Amsterdam in 2040: A master plan for a smart city

Future Cities, an online research platform, explored how Amsterdam will look in the future, according to the "Structural Vision Amsterdam 2040" master plan by Amsterdam City Council.

Future Cities, a collaboration between MasterCard and Skift, researches how major destinations are preparing for the new age of urban mobility. From connected infrastructure to smart technologies, it reports on how global cities are creating seamless and personalised experiences for visitors and residents.

Smart growth in Amsterdam

According to Amsterdam City Council, as many as 150.000 inhabitants are expected to migrate into the city between now and 2040. This prediction has required planners to rethink Amsterdam's economic, physical and social structure to prepare for the influx of new people.

To develop the smart city, Amsterdam City Council introduced the 2040 master plan. It includes developing office parts into mixed-use residential communities, redeveloping industrial; riverfronts and building more high-rises, windfarms and public transport networks.

The overarching goal is to densify existing communities and build new suburban business, commercial and residential districts that maximise space as efficiently as possible within the A10 ring road encircling the city.

Densifying, redeveloping and repurposing

In particular, the Future Cities research highlights the Structural Vision Amsterdam 2040 master plan, which includes six "Spatial Tasks":
Public transport on a regional scale
High quality of public space
Invest in the recreational use of green space and water
Converting to sustainable energy

The number one spatial task is "Densify". A total of 70.000 new dwellings are proposed between now and 2040, along with required infrastructure including schools, retail and sports facilities.

Structural Vision Amsterdam 2040 also calls for the redevelopment of the IJ waterway bisecting the city; the continued growth of the Zuidas business district south of central Amsterdam near Schiphol Airport and two different urban design options to potentially host the 2028 Summer Olympics.

Zuidas is being upgraded

The growth of the Zuidas business district has prompted an upgrade to its buildings and transportation. Top architects are designing buildings to fit the smart city plan. Renowned architect Rem Koolhaas designed a new Amsterdam RAI Hotel, which consists of giant cubes staggered around a vertical access.

In the heart of Zuidas, the new Station-Zuid train station under development is going to be the second largest rail transport hub in the city, linking all of Amsterdam’s neighbourhoods with each other, the rest of the Netherlands and much of Western Europe.

Transport is central

As part of the plan, the council outlines the need to develop more public transportation routes, more public parks and more bicycle lanes to discourage car traffic as much as possible.

The report reads: "At the moment a number of important links in the regional public transport system are lacking. Through to 2040, the necessary ‘network-wide leap’ must be achieved." That includes building a network of new car/train transfer points for people to access the rail system more easily throughout the city.

As well as the council’s plans, many private companies have designed new mobility initiatives, adding to the smart city concept. WeGo, for example, is a peer-to-peer car sharing platform where non-car owners can rent cars from car owners in their neighbourhood.

Green electricity will power car travel

It is expected that green electricity generated by windmills, solar panels and biomass power stations will power 60 percent to 90 percent of all car travel in Amsterdam by 2040.

Also by then, only quiet, electric boats will be allowed to ply the canals, which aligns with the master plan’s mission to combine both old world European charm and future smart technology.

Amsterdam Smart City project

The new master plan is not the first smart initiative set out by the city council. The Amsterdam Smart City platform is a collaboration of over 100 local municipalities, businesses, residents and academic institutions partnering on more than 75 smart projects to date.

The projects are designed to seamlessly integrate with each other to create the most efficient urban user experience possible. The smart city projects range from the world’s first 3D-printed canal house to the redevelopment of the industrial Buiksloterham neighbourhood in Amsterdam Noord.

Another example, the new City-Zen pilot programme includes the development of sustainability-themed virtual gaming networks and neighbourhood-sharing networks where residents can trade surplus green energy with each other.

Parvinder Marwaha


Parvinder Marwaha

British-born editor Parvinder studied architecture in the UK. Amsterdam’s architecture and design scene led her to the city, as well the obvious perks of canal-side living. She writes for various...

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