Europe, part one: The City Unrestrained

From October 2nd to October 16th, I was in Europe, touring Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Malmö, and Berlin. The purpose of the trip was an academic one: to explore Scandinavian strategies for waterfront revitalization. Since I was in Europe anyway, I decided to sandwich my visit to the Scandinavian cities with Amsterdam and Berlin.

This trip will be split into four posts, by city, starting with Amsterdam.

The City Unrestrained

Canals are not the first thing that come to mind when I think of Amsterdam, but a quick search on Google maps shows how these waterlines percolate through the downtown (“Centrale”).


Waterways are a prevalent element in the urban fabric of Amsterdam.

However, maps do not do the city justice when explored at the human scale. Buildings are low-rise by Toronto’s definitions (at four to six storeys – shy of 12 to be considered mid-rise) at a height that allows denser living while also accommodating vibrant at-grade activities.


Peering south across the bridge from main Amsterdam Centrale train station.

Amsterdam is the City unrestrained, not to say the city’s development was left to a completely laissez-faire planning process, but I call it as such because of how it felt like urban life had taken over the city. This brings to mind a quote:

“First we shape our city, then it shapes us. ” – Jan Gehl

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