Area Codes is a brand spanking new feature where we select interesting locals to take us on a tour of their favourite neighbourhood spots. We’ll be asking for pointers on everything from restaurants and record stores to street corners, kebab emporiums, fancy fountains, hidden parks, underground car parks with personal importance… Anything, really, that has a special place in the heart of our nominated natives. Julie Dassaud is art director of art collective Kulter. This is her lowdown on Amsterdam 1061.
Some years ago they called this a ‘problem neighbourhood’, so the government started pumping a lot of money into it. It’s changing a lot. Kolenkit is part of a bigger neighbourhood called Bos en Lommer and it’s quite residential. There are a lot of social housing projects, immigrants, students and young couples looking for a cheap place to live. As the composition of the neighbourhood is slowly changing, the usual café and restaurant chains have popped up. But I prefer the little authentic Turkish restaurants on almost every corner. My favourite is Bir Tat. The food is so good and really cheap. I especially like the lentil soup and the rice with vegetables, a kind of ratatouille called Imam bayildi. The place is small and simple and the owners are very nice, it has the atmosphere of a family restaurant. Lots of Turkish people eat there too, which is always a good sign! For a coffee I go to the design café 331 West. Their motto is ‘breakfast at all times’. You can get sandwiches, cake and other little snacks and everything is home-made. It’s very communicative because there is only one big table for everyone. And it’s a shop at the same time which also has art on the wall and other creations, not necessarily very sophisticated or expensive. The people who hang out there are mainly young artists.
Another nice place to have a coffee or a snack is Bookstore, a combination of studio spaces for artists in residence, a gallery and a café. When you come to the café you can bring a book and even clothes and exchange it for others. And I really like to walk around the A10 highway which cuts right through the neighbourhood. It’s an interesting architectural construction with lots of bridges and passages for people to get across. In one of the passages below there’s an installation by artist Leonard van Munster called ‘Oasis’. I love it. It’s so unlikely. It’s hard to describe. It’s a place where people would usually squat and he’s transformed it into a kind of paradise with lights and a tropical feel and pastel colours. When I saw it for the first time I wasn’t sure if I should find it spooky or like a nice dream. It’s a strange place. Around the A10 there are a lot of free space, which is hard to find these days. So a few people decided to ask for an authorisation to do public barbecues there … and they were successful! When the weather is nice I go there for lunch. Anyone can bring their own barbecue and food and if there are enough people they’ll even put up a tent. It’s so improbable, I love it. Not far from our offices there is this place called Lost Property where they sell their own beer, Green Cap. They make it in the Butcher’s Tears Brewery. It’s much better than what you find in the supermarket and we like to support local businesses, so when we have an opening or another event then this is where we get our beer.
A lot of art collectives and art initiatives have settled down in this neighbourhood, though not the big commercial galleries. It’s the kind of place that motivates you to do stuff, a neighbourhood with space for creative initiatives. Nobody gets upset if you host events with loud music, while in the centre someone would complain straight away.We feel very welcome here. The collectives all do different things, but we all know each other and go to each other’s events. And I think we all try to not be too experimental because we don’t want to shock the neighbourhood. You have to keep a certain balance and many of the projects are very inclusive. Our collective just moved to a new space just around the corner from our old location. You never know how long you will be able to stay. We occupy places that are not renovated, but then when the owner decides to do something with it and polish it up, we have to leave. It’s a bit like legal squatting. I hope we can stay here for quite a while.Kulter Bos en Lommerweg 357 www.kulter.nl Bir Tat Bos en Lommerweg www.birtat.nl 331 West Admiraal de ruijterweg 331 www.331west.nl Lost Property De Leeuw van Vlaanderenstraat 33 www.lostproperty.cx Bookstore Ernest Staesstraat 1