Amsterdam Southeast: Understanding the Past to Shape the Future

The Amsterdam Time Machine doesn’t only focus on the past, but also wants to contribute to the future design of the city: “Understanding the past to shape the future”. Keeping this motto in mind, we have started a pilot project in Amsterdam Southeast (Zuidoost).

Based on historical data, we want to involve residents of Southeast in the (recent) history of their neighborhood. Our initial role is to analyze and visualize the available data about Southeast. We use digital techniques and methods to unlock relevant sources related to the history of the district. This allows us to make a connection between the stories of the inhabitants of Southeast about their own history and identity on the one hand and the sources and stories that can be found in the heritage collections on the other hand. The core idea of the Amsterdam Time Machine is to reconstruct a virtual representation of the neighborhood throughout time, link it with (historical) data and let residents contribute their own stories in different media formats. This participatory aspect makes it a platform for contemporary challenges: on the basis of the past, residents can help develop visions for the future.

The project consists of developing a theoretical framework for such a digital technology-supported, community-driven approach to culture and history. In addition, it includes the practical implementation of a prototype environment for the data collection and presentation. In partnership with the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, we are developing a cartographic, participatory and polyphonic Encyclopedia of Amsterdam Southeast.