June 1 - September 1 2015

Always wanted to sleep at a special location in a unique artistic object?
UrbanCampsite is not a traditional campsite, but a campsite where camping and art come together.  Urban Campsite offers its guests all the amenities of a regular camping ..... and more!

Visitors can stay in artistic, unusual and sometimes just crazy mobile objects. All objects serve as a bedroom and together they form UrbanCampsite.

What is UrbanCampsite Amsterdam?

UrbanCampsite Amsterdam is a publicly accessible open-air exhibition of artworks in an unlikely place in Amsterdam. The exceptionality of these artworks is the fact that they can serve as accomodation, whereby the exhibition acts as a temporary campsite at the same time.The arrangement of the artworks in a special location of Amsterdam such as this underused area offers the visitors a different view of the city and the place itself. Where nothing has been before, art and life suddenly bloom. UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam shows that even the most remote place can receive an exciting dimension.

The same is true for the artworks: due to the fact that they also serve as accommodation the usual distance between viewer and artwork is eliminated, which paves the way for a new view of the works. Thus the use adds another layer of significance, both for those sleeping inside and those coming to look at the objects.

Besides from being an exhibition and temporary settlement UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam is also a gathering place for local residents, tourists, architects, artists and kids. With a lively framework programme the site is always lively and active. In various workshops visitors are encouraged to actively participate in the appropriation and transformation of this place. Different performances aim to continually attract new groups to grace UrbanCampsite with their visit.

UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam brings a broad public into contact with contemporary art and shows this art’s potency to transform a location. This transformations revolves both around the visitors’ experience and the physical location.

The exhibition

UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam changes the purport of the Centrumeiland by transforming this sandy plain next to IJburg into an open-air exhibition consisting of 14 pieces of art selected by UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam and three artworks contributed by Arcam.

Purport and change of meaning are central to the exhibition. Therefore UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam specifically selects designers and artists who play with this theme in their works. Thus various artists transform residual materials which most people would call garbage into convenient accommodation objects. Other artists devote themselves to the interaction between objects and their environment, whereby both receive a new dimension.

The transition from useless to useful, from meaningless to significant is constantly sought after. The visitors and guests are always surprised, challenged to adjust their expectations and encouraged to change their view of their surroundings.

The location

In 1997 the by now concluded first phase of the formation of IJburg started, which consisted of the building and merging of individual artificial islands in the IJmeer which are now known as IJburg. The initial plan was to expand the establishment of IJburg with more islands in phase 2. Unfortunately this second phase can currently not be realized due to excessive investment costs.

The so-called Centrumeiland was supposed to be the connecting link between IJburg I and II, the building of which was proceeded with in 2014 despite the discontinuation of phase 2. In May 2015 the first tenant, the city beach Blijburg, shall be established on the Centrumeiland. So far, no further plans for the purpose and settlement of this island have been made, which leaves room for ideas and experiments. UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam grabs this chance and takes up residence on the Centrumeiland for a couple of months.



Cooperation Arcam

It is not a coincidence that UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam takes place on Centrumeiland. In the beginning of 2014 Arcam, the temporary owner of this site, has given the start signal for a period of experimentation through the project Stad in Zicht (City in Sight). Everyone was invited to join in dreaming about the ideal utilization of this new part of Amsterdam. Our dream was clear: UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam must take place on Centrumeilad to fundamentally change this location and reinstate it in the public's awareness in a completely new way.


The fact that Arcam and the municipal government have created spaces for opportunity through Stad in Zicht connects seamlessly to the idea of UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam, which makes Centrumeiland the ideal location. 

The formation of the landscape

The appropriation or the 'making' of a place means to exact change. Under the leadership of DS landscapers UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam appropriates the Centrumeiland by reforming it and creating something new. In order to form an actual settlement a dyke is built around it which serves two purposes: on the one hand it demarcates the place and offers some measure of protection against the elements and on the other hand it offers the opportunity to scale it and get a good view of the surroundings from atop. Thus Centrumeiland relates to other 'settlements' in the area.

Architecture students (AHK Amsterdam) shall play an important role in the development of the place. They ought to devise how the dyke shall be built and which form especially the lookout points, which should point out and emphasize and different points along the horizon, will take. By these, visitors are made aware of the fantastic view of, among others, Pampus, Muiden, Almere, Durgerdam and IJburg. In the following months the students shall further develop their plan.

When eventually UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam leaves the Centrumeiland the installation will be left behind. Thus a fraction of the power if this project will remain and inspire and invite subsequent users of the place to utilize it in a similarly innovative manner. Through the surrounding dyke the island could, for example, be temporarily used as an amphitheater for various shows or simply as a lovely place for the neighborhood for wind-sheltered sunbathing.

Who is behind the UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam Foundation?

Annette van Driel is an economist. She has worked in various management position in the financial sector for ten years until switched to public housing domain in 2009. There she witnessed the repercussions of the crisis in the form of fallow terrains and suspended projects. But she also saw the chances: maybe she could finally realize her long-cherished dream to make a unique exhibition take shape on in one of the underused areas of Amsterdam.

Francis Nijenhuis is a designer. She studied fashion design at the Amsterdam Art Academy (Hogeschool voor de Kunsten) and afterwards founded the Gallery GA in Amsterdam. Since 1999 she has been working as a freelance fashion designer, web designer, fine artist and illustrator. Francis has excellent knowledge of social media and bursts with ideas for the establishment, execution and promotion of UrbanCampsite.

In the beginning of 2013 Francis and Annette established the UrbanCampsite Foundation to fulfill their long-cherished dream. Francis and Annette play a crucial role in the initiation of UrbanCampsite. Not only are they the employers of its creators but also the hostesses of the visitors. Everyone is personally welcomed and shown around which creates a unique, open and approachable atmosphere on UrbanCampsite, a campsite atmosphere which easily achieves and furthers the contact between creators, visitors and participants of the framework programs.

Framework programme

UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam offers visitors a new view on the surroundings. This aim is also central in the framework programmes. These will consist of an interactive installation, workshops, campfire discussions and performances.

Interactive installation - the Centrumeiland is not only embellished by artworks but also by an interactive installation which encourages visitors to reflect diferrently about Centrumeiland, IJburg and the vicinity.

Workshops - the artists, designers and architects who create the mobile installations for UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam contribute to the event in another way as well: during the time of the exhibition they hold workshops each weekend in which transformation and perception are the central notions. In these workshops the visitors' turn to themselves bring change to the surroundings. These can be physically manifest but also mentally. Ideally, the participants are encouraged to change themselves and thus learn to look differently upon the world. 

Campfire discussions - For the time of UrbanCampsiteAmsterdam Arcam organises a series of campfire discussions which revolves around themes and questions concernig future prospects. For two evenings the program has already been determined. The subjects of the further discussions will be found in spring 2015 in the light of current events.

Arcam shall be present and integrated all the time during the initiation and realisation of UrbanCampsite on Ijburg. This integration becomes obvious, among other things, through the placement of three works of art on the Centrumeiland.

Urban campsite 2015