Esther Agricola
director Monuments & Archaeology
Department City of Amsterdam

by Christa van Vlodrop

1. Background

Art historian. Studied in Amsterdam.

2. Why are you fascinated with
architecture / urban development?

In architecture and urbanism has a lot of similarities: ideology, trade, money, utility, beauty, power, social relations, history and future. Once you have discovered this you walk the streets as a different person.

3. Best city

Amsterdam to live, London for art and shopping and Rome for nostalgia for history.

4. Most beautiful building

The Portuguese Jewish Synagogue at the Mr. Visser Square in Amsterdam. Simplicity at its best. One of the few 17th century buildings that has been virtually untouched for centuries, still without heat and electricity. How ironic that the environment has brutally transformed over the past 50 years. A little is left of the ancient Jewish neighborhood and synagogue since the second world war and the relentless urban renewal in the seventies.

5. Most beautiful park or square

The Amsterdamse Bos: big and grandiose. Museumplein: great emptiness, just pave it!

6. Best public facility /
urban infill

The Amsterdam canals.

7. Best 20th and 21st century innovations

Internet and Smartphone.

8. Next groundbreaking innovation

Sequel to Second Life, developing opportunities in 'inter-reality' in order to lead parallel lives. Incredible and terrifying that people pay to go to a costly psychologist because their life has failed, or was it vice versa? Total 'hussle' of reality and dream, thanks to technology. Is the 21st century one big Truman Show?

9. About the future of cities

Diversity, security and freedom are keywords for the coming decades.

10. Personal contribution to urban development

Highlighting the tremendous value and meaning of history in designing discipline, is still not something obvious in the Netherlands.

11. Guerrilla in the city?

Graffiti and other anonymous projects like 'Saunaman' on the Weteringcircuit in Amsterdam. Provides concern, perspective and overall good humor with cyclists racing past.