The ADM is the largest and longest thriving cultural freehaven in the Netherlands, known over the whole world due to 20 years of social and cultural renewal and hospitality. Our community consists of around 125 people from all ages, nationalities and walks of life. We transformed a disused, derelict shipyard from the Amsterdam Drydock Company into a thriving Living Experiment, by sharing the space, visions and creations. We produce our own projects (Green ADM ) , festivals, concerts, workshops and arts.
ADM is, like many other (historic squat) communities, a fertile germination place for the local and (inter)national cultural climate. Communities like ours (at the fringes of the city) play a leading role in what is now called the Creative Industry. In a city where thinking within existing frameworks, economic interests and clean sidewalks dominate the public domain, our community has been developing an alternative society based on solidarity, self-organization, mutual respect, improvisation, nature and sustainability. Since 2015 ADM is (once again) seriously under threat of eviction.You can read all about legal battle here.
The Amsterdam Drydock Company was founded in 1877 in the north-east part of the Amsterdam harbor at the Nieuwendammerdam
In 1965 the new west-harbor division was established, because ADM's location in the north-east had no more room for expansion.
You can see some pictures of the creation of the new ADM division in the west-harbor here
In 1979 the ADM went (almost) bankrupt and had to merge with the NDSM into the NSM/ADM.
ADM's west-harbor division was closed down. It's drydock was towed to the (main) Nieuwendammerham location
On February 19th,1985 the ADM/NSM was declared bankrupt and the inventory was auctioned off
The wharf at the Nieuwendammerdam is for the most part converted into a residential area. The "Stenen Dok"-location is still in use and is now known as "Shipdock"
'Stichting ADM Leeft' has the aim to protect the natural values on and around the ADM grounds.
In 2015 an in-depth report was made by an independent ecological expert from ARDA advies voor natuur en landschap. This report lists all species of flora and fauna found so far on the ADM. Click here to view (and or download) this report.
The ADM community has formed organically within her environment on the terrain. A forest has grown along with the many houses and huts. Some parts are designated as natural and thus left alone to let nature take her own course. The rest has largely been formed by the ADM inhabitant.
The ADM has quite a number of habitat types present: forest with grass ground cover; forest with understorey; pioneer forest; sea-buckthorn (duindoorn) thickets, blackberry thickets; open patches of grass surrounded by forest; larger patches of grassland; forest edges; half-wild gardens; temporary small ponds; permanent small ponds; occasionally inundated marshy areas; rocky water edges (brackish); reeded water edges (brackish); shallow brackish water; semi-landed reed islands in shallow brackish water; freshwater lake; forest at edge of lake with marshy undergrowth and reeded edges of freshwater pool. All together these habitats and their inhabitants form the ADM ecosystem. A vital part in the larger harbour ecosystem.
All these different habitats provide home to many different plant and animal species such as the protected riet-orchis; echt duizendguldenkruid; kingfisher (ijsvogel); cuckoo (koekoek); pond bat (meervliermuis); bittern (roerdomp); nightingale (nachtegaal) amongst many others.
ADM - natural haven:
When the ADM was built in the 60's by piling meters of sand onto the clay soils it was surrounded by agriculture. Old air photos show the ADM-grounds amongst open polder fields and farmhouses. The ship-building activities on the ADM (Amsterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij) were stopped in 1977. From 1987 to 1992 and from 1997 to present it was squatted and used for cultural and artistic purposes. Since then the vegetation has been allowed to take form naturally with only subtle influences from the ADM human.
When the squatters first arrived in 1997 cows were still being grazed on the 'polders' on the southern half of the ADM-grounds. In 2004 when a nature-evaluation was made the ADM was still surrounded by marshy, shrubby grounds where the plants and animals from the old agricultural lands as well as the imported dune/ sandy soil species could thrive. Since then however, harbour activities have been slowly enclosing the ADM-terrain and the areas left open are mowed regularly to avoid development of any high vegetation. Especially the animals that used to find their home around the ADM are being forced to move onto the ADM-grounds where the structural diversity provides plenty of space for many different species.
Due to the diversity in vegetation structure on the ADM, and the many different habitats there is a high degree of biodiversity. Here is an initial list of some of the animals that live on the ADM. These lists are not complete as there are many more species that make their home here...
Bird species (list not complete):
Marsh tit (Glanskop)
Blue tit (pimpelmees)
Winter wren (Winterkoning)
Great tit (Koolmees)
Long-tailed tit (Staartmees)
Barn swallow (Boerenzwaluw)
House martin (Huiszwaluw)
Robin redbreast (Roodborst)
Song thrush (Zanglijster)
Of course there are also many insects (butterflies, dragonflies, wasps, flies, bees, ground insects, water insects).
As mentioned before for more in depth info on the species living on ADM (incl. updates on the above incomplete lists) see the report made by ARDA in summer of 2015:
The vegetation on the ADM is developing a lot like forests would have grown a thousand years ago. Fast growing willow, poplar and birch trees form the main forest canopy. Parts of the forest has a grassy forest floor with several types of grass and herbs. Other parts have an understory of dogwood (kornoelje) interspersed with a bramble undergrowth. In the open grassy patches oaks and walnuts are starting to grow, brought in by the jays. Here you can also find orchids and other herbs.
Where most of nature in the Netherlands is planned and organised, nature on the ADM has grown largely spontaneously. This has allowed a unique ecosystem to develop, where the humans are a natural part of their environment. A nature evaluation in 2004 revealed that the ADM is an important habitat in the otherwise industrial harbour of Amsterdam. Besides the protected species such as the kingfisher (ijsvogel), bittern (roerdomp), sedge warbler (rietzanger), and pond bat (meervliermuis) there are many more species that live here or use it as a corridor between the natural areas of the Bretten, West Zaan and Spaarnwoude. This can be seen best when viewed from the air or on GoogleMaps for example. When viewed in this way it seems obvious that the ADM provides an important function in the harbour ecosystem - if the forest here were to be flattened the harbour area would become one extremely large and unforgiving industrial desert.
The ADM site is located in the middle of a large industrial area in Westpoort, Amsterdam, on the edge of the Noordzee Kanaal, a major shipping route for global import and export of industrial goods.
The terrain is surrounded by petrol storage tanks, major coal companies, cacao companies, global coffee distributors, global car trading and manufacturing companies and industrial waste disposal machines.
Since 1997 the ADM community has been socially and environmentally active, keeping a green space in the surrounding landscape (see Green ADM for more information about the ADM ecosystem).
We support many unique low-impact dwellings. We maintain over half an acre of land and have a working sustainable structure which co-exists with nature.
We have created a community perma-culture garden growing herbs, vegetables and fruit trees.
Perma-culture gardening is a method of developing a site until it meets all the needs of its inhabitants, through using mainly native plants and re-using materials available at close hand.
The terrain is also home to several species of nesting and migrating birds, owls, bats, many insects, amphibians and woodland animals.
ADM is consistently terraforming and believes that a cleaner, greener environment is essential.
Solar, wind and other alternative energy projects;
More pictures about this PV project here
The way we live and work as a group of people is one of the very special things about this place. Inspirations come over dinner late-night conversations, friends exchange ideas, skills, tools. Constructions penciled on envelopes over coffee, become realised as substantial jobs of public art or inventions of practical design engineering. There are shared spaces with room enough for a resource of materials and large-scale sculptural constructions. People get together with a buzz of good-will to put their energy into cultural and practical things - brain-storming and building festivals for a wider public, putting on regular social events, bands, workshops, or maintaining and improving the infra-structure of ADM community: the mission to cover the roof with solar panels, to improve the roads and tracks, to lay down water pipes, make an internet network, grow a garden, collect scraps for the pigs, sow wildflower seeds… The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
This is such a place of creativity and invention, and living here together, in our self-built spaces, along with the forest and reeds and wildlife this sustains, is our soul food. It nourishes and inspires us, and we give it back out to the world in many different ways. The outreach is wide. If all the creative transactions and transits were drawn on a map it would show a vast network. Our theater productions have been a.o. to China, Croatia, Serbia and Scotland, Germany France and even to Burning Man. Over the years, thousands of artists, musicians, and theater groups have visited here to play and produce to even more thousands of audiences. Creative communities around the world know of the ADM. It has a reputation for creative innovation and cultural free haven, and as being one of the last few such places.
ADM on TV