Building from house to city

Plan ’45, an architectural critique of the AUP


  • Freek Schmidt VU Amsterdam, Faculty of Humanities, Art and Culture, History, Antiquity



From 10 to 18 November 1945, an exhibition was held in the Arti et Amicitiae artists’ society in Amsterdam that lasted only a week but received a great deal of attention in various newspapers. The subject was ‘Bouwen van woning tot stad’ (Building from house to city), ‘a study of housing development plans which were produced in the years 1943-1945 by the architects A. Boeken, J.H.L. Giesen, A. Komter, A. Staal, K.L. Sijmons Dzn., S. van Woerden and P. Zanstra for a book to be published’ on behalf of a group of ten building contractors. The designs were held together by an alternative expansion plan to replace the General Expansion Plan (AUP), approved by the municipal council in 1935. ‘The new plan suggests such healthy and fresh ideas that de Volkskrant [newspaper] – despite all the current criticism – believes it should be brought to the attention of the public. Above all, however, because we are of the opinion that factors of prestige and power should not be decisive for the question of what the capital of the Netherlands will look like in the year 2000.’ Arthur Staal, one of the architects, had spoken to the press, saying, ‘Our plans may seem unacceptable to many, but who dares to say that the 1935 plan is the only solution for Amsterdam? Adding new districts has nothing to do with urban planning. [...] There is still relatively little building activity, but the 1935 plan is pursued. Amsterdam is being nailed to it almost unnoticed, until it becomes a fact. We will then be carrying Amsterdam to its grave – sacrificing its architectural image on the altar of scientific figures.’ The municipality had responded to the invitation for the opening of the exhibition with a message saying it would not be attending.