By 2027, OBA NEXT will be a place where, in one room, children can work on smart solutions using 3D printers while Amsterdam residents debate each other in another. It will be a hive of activity and collaboration, offering lectures, workshops and training courses. Everyone will be welcome there to improve their knowledge, meet each other and develop. Perhaps equally important: it will also be somewhere where you can buy yourself an affordable cup of coffee. All of this will be just around the corner from Amsterdam Zuid station in Zuidas.
Karim El-Khetabi – Director of Giving Back, which is one of the organisations that has been committed to the arrival of OBA NEXT for the last two years – is full of enthusiasm, not least because of the choice of Zuidas as the location. ‘At Giving Back, our mission is to improve cultural diversity in the upper echelons of the business community and government and, as part of that process, we link up professionals with young people and students to provide coaching. That’s how I know that there are numerous organisations in Zuidas that are keen to meet up and share knowledge. In that respect, Zuidas is the perfect, physical location for OBA NEXT, where (young) citizens of Amsterdam will have an opportunity to become acquainted with different worlds.’
TechConnect is another party that actively embraces and supports the arrival of OBA NEXT. ‘We have set the target of enabling an extra 50,000 people from under-represented groups to enter the tech labour market in the years ahead. In OBA NEXT, we are creating a place where we can spark people’s enthusiasm for technology and ICT and share that knowledge, bringing us closer to our target,’ explains Ruben Nieuwenhuis, Managing Director of TechConnect. ‘And, of course, the same applies to other areas of knowledge than IT.’
OBA NEXT will be based in the Innovation District (or Knowledge District). This area of Zuidas is to the south of the A10, on Mahlerlaan, between Zuid station and the VU Amsterdam (Vrije Universiteit) campus. The Innovation District will also include 216 first-timer apartments in the future ‘Stepstone’ residential tower run by De Key Housing Association. These are just the first of 2,700 new homes set to be built here in the years ahead. Of course, there will also be space for art, culture, hospitality/catering and green areas. An important public amenity like OBA NEXT will prove a perfect fit here and will make a unique contribution to ensuring that Zuidas is a vibrant and attractive place.
The Municipal Executive has approved the credit arrangements for the construction of OBA NEXT as a new location for OBA and partners, a local community room where residents can meet and a community helpdesk where people can come with questions about care, well-being, housing and financial matters. There will also be a large, public underground bicycle park with 600 spaces. The City Council will decide on the Executive’s recommendation on 21 April 2021.