Hackable Metropolis Amsterdam: investigating the future of city-making in urban lab Buiksloterham


Our aim is to develop a research agenda and consortium that explores the role of digital media technologies in new directions for urban planning and city making. How can citizens, design professionals, local government institutions and others use digital technologies in collaborative processes of urban planning and management?

This project seeks to connect two parallel yet largely separate developments. On the one hand city municipalities worldwide embark on smart city policies, together with tech businesses and knowledge institutions. They deploy digital technologies and big data to optimize services like traffic, energy, environment, governance and health. On the other hand bottom-up smart citizen initiatives in many cities blossom, consisting of networked people who engage in issues like neighborhood livability, community building, energy provisioning, sharing resources and measuring and generating environmental data. Often they employ sensor technologies, use open data or utilize digital media to organize themselves around a common issue.

Since these two movements rarely interact, opportunities are wasted to combine capacities of various stakeholders in city making with digital technologies. In this research by design project we forward the notion of the ?hackable city? to investigate how new media technologies can open up urban institutions and infrastructures to systemic change by citizens.

Buiksloterham in Amsterdam-Noord is our case and testing ground. Developers here have committed to combining the two above-mentioned perspectives. The area functions as an urban laboratory to study and experiment with opportunities, challenges and conditions for the ?hackable city?.


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. M.L. de Lange

Affiliated with

Universiteit Utrecht, Faculteit Geesteswetenschappen, Departement Media- en Cultuurwetenschappen

Team members

Drs. P de Haan, Drs. P de Haan


01/08/2014 to 28/02/2015