About us

Welcome to the Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab Amsterdam! We are located in Amsterdam-North, where we perform small-scale testing to determine what might be feasible on a much larger scale. Our research, design and education projects are all about connecting people with each other, with their living environment and the system worlds that play a role in it. We include forms of leisure and tourism as possible strategies for change. Together we are building a revitalizing & regenerative city.

A glimpse of what we do at the living labs:

Room for ongoing sustainability

Obsolete shipyards, characteristic working-class neighbourhoods, inspiring edge lands, and springing up in between them an increasing number of hip clubs, coffee bars and up-market houses; Amsterdam-North is growing and changing at a rapid pace. While offering many opportunities, this does also entail a number of metropolitan issues. There is still scope for new initiatives when it comes to connecting people, and to the linking of city and landscape. The Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab has embarked on that domain, and our area of expertise – leisure activities – is the resource we deploy to make life in and around this residential area more enjoyable, sociable and sustainable. We employ a down-to-earth approach, working with old and new residents and stakeholders in this northern city quarter. By means of practice-oriented education and design-focused research, we work on the positive changes that will make the city better for everyone.

Tourism and leisure

From over-tourism to lockdown in just a few weeks; from a focus on spreading out to staying at home as much as possible and spending leisure time in the local neighbourhood. The students of six Creative Business disciplines, together with partners from the world of work, are engaged in discovering what leisure activities are all about in 2021 and how we can still manage to feel ‘free’. Meanwhile, many of the major underlying challenges remain the same. For example, how can we make sure that more local entrepreneurs benefit from the leisure industry? What is the key to a circular visitor economy? How do you divide the public space to satisfy all demands in terms of leisure activities? And is this the right time to promote ‘fair’ tourism? These are the kinds of issue that the lab works on; sometimes in collaboration with external partners such as the municipality, Recreatieschap Noord-Holland, SAIL Amsterdam and the partners of Visit Beemster, and sometimes on our own initiative to contribute to scientific research being conducted in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. One example of this is SMARTDEST, the Horizon 2020 study we are working on with the universities of Barcelona and Venice.

Exploring the routes

Students, teachers and researchers from the Inholland Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab liaise with those parties who stand to gain from a more attractive Amsterdam-North: residents, visitors, entrepreneurs, non-profit organisations, expertise institutions and authorities. In the lab, students find partners from the field of work for their concrete projects, traineeships or graduation assignments. Guided by educational coaches from the various study disciplines, they reach out to the outside world to work on social issues in collaboration with local stakeholders. Enhancement of social cohesion is often key to the assignments and the ways to achieve this derive from the domains of tourism, recreation and the events industry. Sustainability is always key, but output may vary, ranging from an alternative light festival to an effective system for compulsory coronavirus registration in cafés and restaurants, or from a disused caravan to a project in which local tourist taxes are visibly re-invested in the neighbourhood. We deploy co-design methodologies and tools, partly developed in-house, whereby the route to the finish line is never fully defined; it is always a joint exploratory expedition.