Reimagining Heerenstraat: Actief Erfgoed in de Historische Binnenstad van Paramaribo / Active Heritage in Paramaribo’s Historic Inner City
In 2016, the Government of Suriname, financed by a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), launched the Paramaribo Urban Rehabilitation Program (PURP), which contributes to the socio-economic revitalisation of Paramaribo’s historic inner city. It aims to attract new residents and commercial activities to the centre of Paramaribo, to restore value to its cultural heritage, to reduce traffic congestion and to strengthen the institutional framework for managing its sustainable development. The program also aims for a climate-smart approach to infrastructural interventions.
From July 29 to August 2, 2019, Luiz de Carvalho Filho and Santiago del Hierro, from the Department of Urbanism of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at TU Delft, visited Paramaribo to explore the possible topics for a Workshop Program in support of PURP to be carried out in November 2019. This Technical Cooperation would take place in coordination with IDB and the Government of Suriname, particularly the Ministry of Education’s Directorate of Culture. The cooperation would be realised as part of the fall semester of the European Post-master in Urbanism (EMU), in parallel to a research and design studio for the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.
In contrast to the approach to Amsterdam, students in the Paramaribo Workshop shifted in scale from a metropolitan understanding of the city, to a neighbourhood perspective where spatial justice was addressed through social participation and a local understanding of what makes urban space lively, inclusive and safe. Paramaribo and Amsterdam are cities that have a strong relationship due to a shared colonial history. Their relationship has continued to remain very active even since the independence of Suriname in 1975, when a high percentage of the population of Paramaribo emigrated to the Netherlands. In this sense, the workshop also included the perspective of Dutch-Surinamese citizens who experience both places as home. This helped us broaden our understanding of how urban liveliness is experienced in different Surinamese contexts. Input from The Black Archives, the Grote Surinam Exhibition and the Bijlmer Museum in Amsterdam was integrated into the workshop’s preliminary research.
Between 3 and 8 November, during the workshop week in Paramaribo, TU Delft students, together with local stakeholders, focused on the analysis of local conditions and possible strategies that can support a sustainable revitalisation of the Heerenstraat, a street with enormous potential to become one of the Historic Inner City’s most iconic destinations due to its inherent beauty and the public activities that the community is continuously organising.
By focusing on the interaction of various layers on an intervention at a smaller scale (the Heerenstraat and its adjacent buildings and public spaces), the workshop aimed at understanding and visualising a concrete roadmap towards a more lively, active and safe space in this specific case study within the Historic Inner City.
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