In 2006, Pakhuis de Zwijger was born. This former refrigerated warehouse on the Piet Heinkade opened its doors as a platform for creation and innovation. We started creating programs focussed on the city, our country and the world of the future. Over the past 15 years we have grown into a unique regional, national and global platform that focuses on bringing people together and realising projects that contribute to the development of a more sustainable, fair and future-proof society.
Pakhuis de Zwijger is an accessible, independent and safe public meeting space for everyone. A contemporary ‘talking house’ with a strong online presence that focuses on dialogue as a form of conversation. A place where together we formulate ambitions and present different opinions and insights in order to arrive at creative solutions for the urgent and complex social issues of our time. Where we bring artists and designers together with scientists, policymakers, experts and citizens in all their diversity. Where together we visualise the cities and metropolises of tomorrow, test research results against everyday practice and present technological and social innovation as alternatives to current policy and actual reality. And finally, above all, a place where we ask a lot of questions and tackle social issues as complex design assignments.
We live in a time of great change and are in the midst of some major transitions. A time when the scope and complexity of social and economic issues is growing, the direct links between the functioning of local, national communities and global relations, and the condition of our planet are becoming increasingly visible. We jump from one crisis into another; from the refugee crisis to the climate and energy crisis, from the nitrogen and water crisis to identity crisis and the crisis on the housing market. The global social divide is increasing, poverty and debt problems are piling up and unequal opportunities in education are getting worse.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on our shortcomings on a global scale. All the alarm bells are ringing simultaneously. At the same time, the digitisation of our society continues unabated. Our way of life; shopping, learning, recreation, but also working, doing business, producing and communicating are changing drastically. The economy has also been turned upside down; markets, relationships and powers shift and fluctuate. We are seeking a new balance. From a fast-paced society with a focus on the short-term and strong individualistic approach, to a more long-term, economic, ecological, social and mental sustainability, with more collectivity and solidarity.
Organising meetings and generating impact
The Pakhuis de Zwijger Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that produces approximately 600 programs annually together with a large number of partners. The main theme and common thread is the future of daily life. The central question is ‘What kind of city/country do we want to live in?’ in five, ten, twenty and thirty years’ time? Our program makers bring people and organisations together, build communities of practice, set up substantive editorial boards, place creatives in a central executive role, and together with our partners create programs to inform and inspire. We map out possible solutions and host initiatives from relevant civil societal organisations that use our platform and expertise to generate and increase their impact. We also participate in European projects, government contracts and organise and moderate processes of co-creation in the city and region. We do this in-house in the various rooms within our own building, in the two New Metropolis locations that we have set up in the ‘Nieuw-West’ and ‘Zuidoost’ districts in Amsterdam, and at other locations in the metropolitan region and country.
Bringing systems and the living world together
Pakhuis de Zwijger and the two New Metropolis branches are working on developing and building impact coalitions; bringing together governments, knowledge institutions and large companies (the systems) on the one hand, and citizens’ initiatives, social organisations, small and medium-sized enterprises and local entrepreneurs (the living world) on the other. In order to arrive at sustainable solutions for urgent social issues, these programs link daily practices, scientific research and policies. In our programs and activities, we invite the six stakeholder groups to enter into discussions with each other and come together to develop creative and innovative approaches.
City and country for all
Our city Amsterdam is becoming increasingly diverse in terms of the population makeup. Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam are now all three cities without a clear majority. Something that has long been the case in many major cities, such as London, Paris and New York. Pakhuis de Zwijger is explicitly programming for this development; content, in the composition of the speakers, its own HR policy and in the choice of moderators. The starting point in our programming is making the city and the country of the future together; for all of us. Sustainable and just, prosperous, safe and healthy. With equal opportunities for all people.
Governments, knowledge institutes, companies, entrepreneurs, citizen initiatives and social organisations can connect to our platform and the activities of Pakhuis de Zwijger and its branches in various ways. The types of collaborations with organisations and individuals can vary from editorial board member, content and/or financial partner, to sponsor or co-producer. Or just through friendship or donorship. The content and the intended impact are always paramount.