In the Netherlands, crime rates have been so low that prisons are being shut down from the lack of prisoners. But for the Bijlmerbajes prison in Amsterdam, the shuttered facility is finding new meaning through adaptive reuse.
While most of Bijlmerbajes will eventually be demolished, the city of Amsterdam has, in the meantime, decided to convert it into a creative hub called Lola Lik, which will dedicate 100,000 square feet of space to artists, startups, and offices. What’s even more compelling about this project, however, is its proximity to Wenckebachweg, a local refugee center that has also taken over part of Bijlmerbajes.
Up to 1,000 refugees from Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, and Afghanistan have been living in Wenckebachweg while seeking asylum. By developing Lola Lik within the complex, the city hopes to further integrate refugees with the rest of the population. This is an example of the “Amsterdam approach,” which advocates for initiatives that encourage the inclusion of refugees.
With "a cultural hub next to a refugee center in a time of fear and division, Amsterdam offers a space for inspiration and connection," Lola Lik Communications Manager Cathelijn de Reede tells Co.Exist.
“Lik” is an slang term for prison that also means a “lick of paint.” And people are already adding their own “liks” to the hub. For example, global art foundation, Favela Painting, has collaborated with some refugees to turn grey prison walls into colorful murals. Also coming soon are a coffee shop by The Refugee Company, a kickboxing school, and a space for food startups founded by Syrian entrepreneur Jay Asad. Head over to Co.Exist for the full story.