I have always been an avid consumer of books, mostly fiction… lots of fiction plus some work related & design stuff. My most recent book however was on a topic I know little about: town planning. The thick volume (in Dutch) entitled ‘1000 jaar Amsterdam’ is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read this year.
The facts, figures and anecdotes about how a town like Amsterdam came in to being, proves that the truth truly is ‘stranger than fiction’. Even if history and architecture don’t interest you, I guarantee, this book will. It’s about people, mad ideas and the lucky accidents that happen when nobody is paying attention.
Although this particular story, (I came across last week) isn’t featured in that book it’s worth a mention. The website explains it all but in short: two local boys (brothers) dreamt up a plan back in 1999 to create a second ‘mirrored’ ‘grachtengordel’ across the river from Central Station, exactly where the Shell building and ‘Eye’ museum stand. Several property developers showed serious interest but it never happened. Still the radicalness of the idea is inspiring to me and a great demonstration of the adagium ‘THINK BIG.’