January 18, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

By Nate Wybenga

Our excursion today through new towns in the Netherlands was overshadowed by what is being called “the worst storm in years”.  The wind is blowing here so ferociously that at our final new town we visited, Almere, the people were told to leave work early and head home!

But despite the weather we were able to see some very neat planning of towns that have “sprung up” as areas were reclaimed in the Netherlands.  First we visited a group of several islands that have been created in the past 10 years as part of a “compact city policy”.  These islands are very close to the heart of Amsterdam, and together they are called “IJburg”.  Several architects have been called in to design some pretty unique buildings, and provide living space for those of all income brackets.  We drove through areas of the elite where individual homes are built as well as areas of high-rise apartments where subsidized housing is located.  It was also neat to see that these islands are still themselves in the development phase, and not only are they still building houses on the islands, but also still building the islands themselves. 

We then visited a much larger new town, Almere, located on the Flavoland polder.  The town has all sorts of areas that were under development, and we were able to visit several regions.  First we toured through some neighborhoods with several “cookie cutter” housing.  Then we went through “rainbow neighborhood” with houses painted all different colors.  Finally we ended up in the downtown district of Almere.  After having lunch we went over to the city information center.  There we received a presentation of the development of the city.  Our host at the information center, we could tell, was very flustered by the news of the storm and was anxious to leave as she presented the downtown area to us while many people from the downtown went home!  We were not able to take a walking tour of the downtown because of the wind and rain, and instead hopped in the vans and headed home.

Because it was our last class excursion for the week, we were able to relax this evening.  Many people are headed out tomorrow to visit other countries or just tour around the country.

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