Of Hackers and Cities: How Selfbuilders in the Buiksloterham Are Making their City.

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How can citizens become active citymakers alongside design professionals, local government institutions and others, by creatively using digital technologies in collaborative processes of urban planning and management? This challenge is particularly daunting in the Buiksloterham, a brownfield area in Amsterdam North, that is assigned as an urban laboratory destined to grow from 200 inhabitants to over 10,000 people. The area was opened to selfbuilders: private individuals and households who build their own home, and collectives of about 15–50 people who build a shared apartment together. The research is based on ethnographic research carried out in the area. It provides a theoretical foundation for understanding the connection between bottom-up citymaking processes and institutionalisation. It also proposes a research and design narrative about people-centric hackable smart cities. This contribution results from a long-running research project called The Hackable City (http://thehackablecity.nl), which between 2012 and 2017 in multiple separately funded iterations, investigated new modes of citymaking through the notion of ‘hackability’. The project was a collaboration between academics, an architecture and urban design office, and various organisations in the domains of policy, urban services and the cultural field.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Hackable City
Subtitle of host publicationDigital Media and Collaborative City-making in the Network Society
EditorsMichiel de Lange, Martijn de Waal
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9789811326943
ISBN (Print)9789811326936
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Smart cities
  • Smart citizens
  • Hacking culture
  • Urban planning
  • City-making


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