Tagged : Netherlands

Kavel Benjamin One - Vrijburgh Drachten

Pickets

By now you all know I’m developing my own house. The Benjamin One. Somehow it continues to feel like nothing but fiction. The design only exists in my computer. Talks I have with the local government, buyers, contractor, friends and colleagues are… talks. So, Benjamin One, my future house, continues to be some sort of imagination. A dream. Fiction.

Until now.

I walked by the lot where my house will be constructed and realised something was different. I noticed little yellow pickets defining the lot. My lot. Suddenly the Benjamin One project turned from fiction to reality. It’s just four little pickets. But it makes all the difference to me.

Benjamin One - Vrijburgh Drachten

It’s been a while…

Well, okay. It’s not just been a while. It’s been a looooooong while. My last post dates back to June 2014, which is exactly 630 days ago. Yep, it’s a long time, and a lot has happened since.

The thing that kept me most busy is an idea. A stupid idea at first. Here it comes: What if I would design and develop my own house?

Yeah, why not?

Long story short: I did. And since it’s my first house, I named the project Benjamin One. Soon it turned out “Benjamin Three” would be more applicable. This is because the local government “forced” me to develop two other houses as well. In return of this “favour”, I was allowed to pick the lot I preferred most. Soon construction of the three houses starts. It’s going to be exciting times!

Tulips, canal houses and… Kiozk

Kiozk Start in Amsterdam

Tulips, canal houses, Anne Frank, the Rijksmuseum, the red light district and coffee shops. These are things Amsterdam is famous for. Starting today, you can add Kiozk to this list.

No, I won’t mind. Really.

Of course I’m exaggerating and Kiozk won’t be as famous as tulips and canal houses anytime soon (if ever). But still, theoretically it’s possible… theoretically…

Why? Because Kiozk, the company I co-founded, launched in Amsterdam this very weekend. Now Kiozk can be used in our Dutch capital, something we’re thrilled about. As you probably know by now, Kiozk shows activities taking place at the users current time and location. This way it’s easy to discover new and fun activities nearby. While preparing the launch in Amsterdam, we literally discovered hundreds of great activities, many of them free of charge. Every day, there are concerts, expositions, boat trips, lectures, entertainment, events and much much more. It’s amazing how Amsterdam, a city I thought to know quite well, offers so many surprises.

A big surprise is the Civic Guards Gallery, located next to the Kalverstraat, one of the busiest shopping street of the Netherlands. It showcases 15 substantial paintings of the Amsterdam Civic Guards from the 17th Century. It’s not only free of charge, it’s also the only place in the world where paintings are displayed in the open air, with only a glass roof to protect them. 

Another great surprise is the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, located next to the central railway station. The conservatory offers several free concerts a day (!), which actually isn’t the only reason to visit the conservatory. As it turns out, the architecture is worth checking out too. The entire building is brand new and the auditoriums are simply beautiful.

There are many more surprises worth mentioning. What to think of free activities like a boat ride, a film museum or a city walking tour and paid activities like a tour of the Ajax stadium and a bike ride to typical Dutch windmills.

I know I’m biased, but you should definitely check out Kiozk.com when visiting Amsterdam. Oh, and follow me on Twitter (here or here) to stay up to date with Kiozk related news.

Fyra fiasco

Icedome Almere, fiasco in the making

Forget the financial crisis, global warming or conflict in the Middle East. A high speed train and national ice skate arena is all we currently talk about in the Netherlands. Why? Well, one of these topics is a fiasco, the other will be in a few years.

Fyra, which is should be a high speed train from Amsterdam to Brussels, is something that turned out to be too good to be true. Several years ago, the government and railway officials of Belgium and the Netherlands painted a bright future with two possible outcomes. 1) Everything would work out exactly as planned, thus creating a perfect train connection between the two countries… or 2) the project becomes a fiasco… guess what, it’s the fiasco that happened.

In 2013, exactly the same is about to happen with the national ice skate arena.

Here’s the situation

1. The Dutch are crazy about ice skating (it’s one of our national sports)
2. All the major national and international ice skate events allocated to the Netherlands take place in a single ice skate arena, which is Thialf.
3. Thialf, our national ice skate arena is outdated and needs to be modernized
4. Local politicians waited too long before making any decisions regarding a modernized Thialf
5. This prompted the Dutch national ice skate federation to write out a competition. ‘Which city wants to build the next national ice skate arena?’
6. Three cities responded, including the city where Thialf is located. But another city, Almere, has the best plan thus possibly wins.
7. There only seems to be one problem… Icedome Almere (the best entry), feels too good to be true…

It’s all about the money

Thialf, the current arena, presented a plan which costs about 80 million euros. The plan is divided in three phases, the first and most important one costs 50 million, which is covered for by the local government. The other contender, Icedome Almere, presented a much more ambitious plan which costs over 180 million. Paradoxically, this plan doesn’t need support by the government. Instead, businesses cover all costs involved. Although this sounds great, it feels unrealistic. Especially when the initiators are tight lipped about any (possible) investor involved.

In addition, Icedome Almere expects 1,2 million annual visitors, which equals more than 3000 people a day. To be fair, they plan to host non-skate events like musicals, festivals and concerts as well. Still, it’s a large number which feels a bit optimistic. What if ‘only’ 600.000 people visit the arena (still a huge number). In that case, who’ll cover the investment of 183 million euros + 15 million in annual operation costs?

A perfect stadium or fiasco?

Let me rewrite the second paragraph, but instead of Fyra (the train), It’s Icedome Almere we talk about. Here we go: Recently, initiators of Icedome Almere painted a bright future with two possible outcomes. 1) Everything works out exactly as planned, thus creating the perfect ice skate stadium… or 2) the project becomes a fiasco (which forces the government to help out, again)… Guess what, I think the latter.

Let’s see how this project develops. I’ll keep you posted.

Talkshow-in-a-church

Regular readers of this blog know I’m involved with Bolder75. It’s a talkshow-in-a-church concept which we developed and produced ourselves. It was quite a challenge to find out what set we needed, how and where the guests should sit, where to position the cameras, and on and on. As time progressed, we got better and raised the bar each time.

Above, I included a short compilation of the April 13th broadcast. This was the seventh Bolder75 episode we produced. I think it looks great and it’ll be quite a challenge to improve on it. But we’re gonna try this Sunday. In the (eighth) episode, Piet Paulusma will be one of the guests. It’s something to look forward to.

Until then… I’m just gonna enjoy the compilation of last month.