Amsterdam (DE)TOURS |


If you live in Amsterdam, you probably recognise the feeling of annoyance towards herds of tourists flocking on city center roads. You think to yourself: ‘Why do they all seem to walk up and down this ugly road between Central Station and Dam Square?! The city has so many other unique streets to explore…’

Exactly this topic challenged the city government to re-think her urban dynamics. How can the pedestrian traffic get more in balance? How can we let streams of people spread out over the city and by this, unburden those busy central streets and pavements?

Placemakers and studio KNOL work together on finding accessible and creative solutions to this urban question. The aim is to draw people towards the slightly more unnoticeable streets. Overloaded public areas could possibly be eased when streams of people discover Amsterdam’s great de-tours.

Three small interventions are placed on three different Fridays, on the corner of Dam Square with a small charming street called Nes. The number of people bending off the main road, is measured thoroughly by researchers. All three of the interventions address a different way of subtly inviting people into the Nes.

The first intervention uses graphic patterns on the ground as a subtle ‘nudge’ to draw people into the street. People’s routing choice mostly happens unconsciously. Over the last few years, policy makers have started to experiment more with subtly influencing people’s behavior. This is called ‘nudging’. People are tempted in playful ways to break patterns. With this thought in mind, the first experiment is set up.


The second intervention uses a new and more interesting way of signing than the existing one. A cloud of hands point at the destination; in this case the Nes Theaters. Visitors of Amsterdam tend to follow the ‘herd’ (see: Van der Drift, 2015;, 2015). Possibly this has to do with the traditional and unnoted way the city uses its current signing. Can we break the pedestrian stream by providing a very different signage?

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The third intervention just gives information. This is already a common way of regulating traffic on highways or in parking lots. If you see an info sign, you could re-consider your route based on this information. With use of a score board system, we notify pedestrians of the percentage of people taking either of the two routes (the main one and the alternative de-tour). Do make people new rational or emotional choices based on what they see?


For the production, we cooperated with studio Sans Plus