The city of Almere was designed as a number of semi-separate nuclei, each with their own residential districts, facilities and identity, connected through a shared infrastructure and a common city center. There are six urban districts:
- Almere Stad
- Almere Buiten
- Almere Haven
- Almere Poort
- Amere Hout (early development stage)
- Almere Pampus (planning stage)
Almere Stad is subdivided into the areas Almere Stad Oost, Almere Stad West and the city center.
Almere city center
Almere City Center is the city's retail and leisure hub; a blend of stores, restaurants, bars and cultural facilities. With the World Trade Center Almere Area (WTCAA) and the business center behind Almere's main railway station (Almere Centrum), the city center is also an important business location.
Almere’s city center is filled with a slew of iconic structures. In anticipation of significant population growth, a vast extension of the city center facilities was a crucial part of the ambition to transform Almere into a complete and attractive city.
In 1995, world-renowned architect Rem Koolhaas and his Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) developed a master plan that completed and complemented the center’s existing surroundings. A distinctive feature in OMA’s design is the way in which an upper level (apartments, retail and leisure facilities) and a lower level (parking, separate bus and car lanes) have been integrated. The final element to be completed was the state-of-the-art public library that opened in March, 2010.
The construction of the large residential areas in Almere's second nucleus Almere Stad started in 1979. The urban master plan was centered on developing variations of a street grid pattern, with some sections aligned at 45 degrees to the rest. The angle changes, however, made it harder for people to find their way.
As development proceeded eastward, the urban layout became increasingly regular. The Filmwijk district (with streets named after renowned actors and directors) stands out for its contrasting street pattern. The Tussen de Vaarten district was the final district to be built in Almere Stad. It marked a departure from the original concept of lining each district with parks and other green areas. Tussen de Vaarten fused the districts of Almere Stad and Almere Buiten together.
The first houses in Almere's third district were completed in the 1980s. To generate diversity, the individual neighbourhoods were built using a thematic approach. Colors, for instance, are the central theme of the 'rainbow district' (Regenboogbuurt), whereas the 'seasonal district' (Seizoenenbuurt) reflects its woodland surroundings.
The district center of Almere Buiten is currently undergoing significant changes. A vast expansion of the center's retail and other facilities will turn it into a fully fledged district center for the district's 55,000 residents. The first new store properties, adjoining apartments and two parking garages were completed in 2009 and the developments continue apace.
Eyecatchers in the new distric center are the art displays integrated in the storefronts. The displays (two, with another three to be opened over the next year) show changing expositions by local artist and can be visited 24 hours a day.
Almere Haven was the first nucleus to be built. The first pile was driven in 1974. On December 1, 1975, the city’s first 24 residents were handed the keys to their temporary homes. 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.
The district is set around a market square, with surrounding stores and town canals. The location on the banks of the Gooimeer lake is emphasised by an inland harbour. Almere Haven has a rich cultural scene with a range of art galleries, artist workshops, cultural centre Corrosia! and fringe theater De Roestbak.
Almere Poort is Almere's newest district. The first houses were completed in 2008 and the development continues apace. Almere Poort offers a growing number of amenities, ample space and affordable houses. The district's residents are just a bicycle-ride away from the beach, the forest and the park, but they are also minutes away from the motorways to Amsterdam and Utrecht. Almere Poort has its own railway station. In Almere Poort residents join efforts to build their own district. Thát makes for a strong connection.
Almere Poort has a number urban quarters ('kwartieren'), each with their own unique characteristics. Europakwartier has lively streets, quiet courtyards and a well-considered mix of living, working and facilities. Columbuskwartier is a diverse and child-friendly urban quarter with a strong focus on sustainability. Olympiakwartier has a train station and bus station and is the district's future center area that will offer retail, entertainment and catering facilities. Homeruskwartier is the largest area for privately commissioned housing in the Netherlands. By looking at the district, the entire country can witness how people truly make the city. In Almere Poort’s coastal area DUIN is arising; a revolutionary area for living, working and recreational purposes with dunes up to ten meters high!
The various business parks offer an excellent business location for enterprisal endeavors.