(1Cultural Heritage Agency, The Netherlands / 2Amsterdam City Archives, The Netherlands)

Outline: The aim of this paper presentation is to introduce the Atlas of Amstelland research project, in which historical, cartographic, and archaeological data will be integrated into one landscape atlas, for the purposes of research and planning.

Abstract: From medieval times onwards, when the first settlers undertook to reclaim the wilderness in the west of the Netherlands, techniques were used to measure lands and divide them into regular parcels for agricultural use by the locatores of the landlords. Medieval cities were laid out according to plan, in the realisation of which surveyors were involved. During early modern times, surveyors played an essential role in the great city extensions, such as the Amsterdam canal belt, but also in the lake drainage, polder and canal projects that were undertaken during the Dutch Golden Age.

When regional planning and modern urbanism were introduced in the Amsterdam region in the early twentieth century, the concept of survey – the English word was also used in Dutch from this time onwards – got a much broader sense. Modern planning was based on tabula rasa, empty space. The existing landscape and its regular, medieval structure disappeared under thick layers of sand.

Before designing their world famous General Extension Plan for Amsterdam (1935), the urbanist Cornelis van Eesteren and his researcher Theodoor van Lohuizen carried out an extensive scientific research project, which generated all data judged necessary: population prognoses, land use data, and spatial demands for a range of urban functions.

Over time, the significance of historical data in our interaction with the cultural landscape has become stronger. In present-day planning, the concept of multi-layered cultural landscape has taken the place of tabula rasa. The concept of survey has become an even broader denotation. In this presentation, researchers of the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency and the Amsterdam City Archives will present an example of the next generation of survey, the Atlas of Amstelland, which aims at the integration of data about cultural landscapes, built heritage and archaeology, for both research as well as planning purposes.

Keywords: landscape biography, survey data integration, Amsterdam, Amstelland