Almere is the newest city in the Netherlands . It was only 38 years ago that the first pile was driven and the first inhabitants – real pioneers – took up residence in the new polder town.
The city of Almere (known by the name of ‘Zuidweststad’ or ‘South West City’ until 1970) was originally designed as a number of semi-separate nuclei, each with their own neighbourhoods, facilities and identity, connected through a shared infrastructure and a common city centre. This approach enabled the founding fathers to create a forty-year development plan for the city while retaining the flexibility necessary to adjust to changing circumstances.
Almere Haven was the first nucleus to be built. The first pile (of what would later become a telephone exchange centre) was driven in 1974. On December 1st 1975, the city’s first 24 pioneers (thirteen adults and nine children) were handed the keys to their temporary homes by public administrator Will Marie Otto. A year later, the first brick houses were completed.
Reflecting urban development thinking of the time, Almere Haven is characterized by its maze of so-called “cauliflower neighbourhoods”. Playful street patterns full of culs-de-sac were designed to encourage social contact.
In 1979 the first housing projects in Almere Stad were completed and in the 1980s the third nucleus – Almere Buiten – was initiated. In 1984 Almere became an official municipality, with Han Lammers (a former local administrator) as its first mayor. Since January 1st 1986, the three Zuiderzee polders together officially constitute the twelfth province of the Netherlands: Flevoland.
Present and future
Currently, Almere is a city with over 195,000 inhabitants and 14,500 businesses. Two more urban nuclei (Almere Poort and Almere Hout) are in development, with several more in the planning stages. Almere is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and has the ambition to become the fifth largest city (where it is currently the seventh largest city) in the Netherlands over the next twenty years.