The Volkskrant Building: Manufacturing Difference in Amsterdam’s Creative City, Boukje Cnossen and Sebastian Olma

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About this publication: The Volkskrant building more than any other place exemplifies Amsterdam’s transformation into a ‘creative city’ over the past fifteen years. Boukje Cnossen and Sebastian Olma trace the history of this infamous and inspiring place from its deep roots in the squatting heyday of the eighties to its present renaissance as the Volkshotel. The focus of their entertaining yet rigorous analysis is the period from 2007 to 2014 when the Volkskrant building hosted an art factory (broedplaats) run by the former squatters collective Urban Resort.

Artists, activists, city officials, entrepreneurs, and property developers share their stories of the good times and the struggles in and around the Volkskrant building. How did a group of former squatters turn it into a place for both creative entrepreneurship and subversion? And how could it happen that this countercultural project ended up attracting the attention of one of the largest property investors in the Netherlands?

This detailed inquiry into the practices and interests shaping the epicenter of Amsterdam’s creative scene provides a look behind the shiny façade of creative city policy. The authors show how the Volkskrant building came to be more than a space for creativity alone, as it opened up the possibility for a new infrastructure of citizenship.

About the authors: Boukje Cnossen is an academic researcher and art critic interested in the organization and spatial politics of artistic production. She holds a Master of Research in Humanities & Cultural Studies from the London Consortium (Birkbeck College, University of London) and pursues a PhD at the Faculty of Economics & Management of Tilburg University. Her reviews, feature articles, and essays have appeared in various publications, from Dutch dailies NRC Handelsblad and Het Parool, to (art) magazines such as De Gids and Metropolis M.

Sebastian Olma
is an author, researcher and critic working at the interface between creativity and business. He was trained in Political Science, Organization Studies and Cultural Philoso- phy in Leipzig, New York and London. As director of Amsterdam’s Serendipity Lab he advises governments and organizations on the creation and implementation of policies around the creative economy. For the University of Amsterdam he has built the Creative Industries Research Centre (CIRCA). He currently is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Network Cultures.

Colophon: Publisher: Amsterdam Creative Industries Publishing, Rose Leighton. Production: Miriam Rasch. Design: UNDOG, Amsterdam. EPUB development: André Castro. Copy-editor: Margarita Osipian. Printer: Offsetdrukkerij Nuance. Supported by Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool van Amsterdam), Stichting Urban Resort, University of Amsterdam, Bureau Broedplaatsen (Municipality of Amsterdam), Institute of Network Cultures. Images: Tanja Sihvonen, Bambos Demetriou, Louk Heimans, Raymond van Mil, unknown photographers.

Contact: Amsterdam Creative Industries Publishing,

Boukje Cnossen and Sebastian Olma, The Volkskrant Building: Manufacturing Difference in Amsterdam’s Creative City
ISBN 978-94-92171-00-9 (print)
ISBN 978-94-92171-01-6 (epub)