Is Almere worth an architecture tourism visit?
Almere became municipality in 1984. The land on which Almere sits was Ijsselmeer water and was reclaimed from 1959 to 1968. Almere is part of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region and had about 215.000 inhabitants in 2021, a figure that will go up to 350.000, or more.
As a new town Almere did not have to be concerned with heritage and could take an innovative approach to urban planning and architecture. During the first 10 - 15 years of its development, a lot of social housing was constructed for Amsterdam residents who could not obtain housing in Amsterdam. The last two decades, more land was reserved for middle- and higher- income households; apartments, parcels to 'develop your own house' and other options.
An architecture visit to Almere is definitely worth the effort, to answer the blog title's question. The two most interesting areas to visit are the city centre and the Regenboogbuurt (Rainbow District). The city centre's master plan was designed by OMA architects, and they invited architects to design specific buildings for the centre, constructed in the period 1994-2010. See the pictures below for a few examples of what can be found in the centre. Opposite the city hall (ground floor can be accessed) you find the central library (Nieuwe Bibliotheek) that opened in 2010 that was designed as a big open space with four floors. It is great place, with spaces for study, relax, drink a coffee or tea, with multimedia, or viewing the city centre. It even has books!
The Regenboogbuurt is well-known among architects because of its use of colour, amongst other things. This district deserves more attention from tourists interested in culture and architecture.
We visited Almere on a Dutch Summer day with some sunshine, clouds, a few drops of rain. The city centre walk was a pleasure. There is a lot to see, the open spaces are well done and maintained, the experience of the interior of the Nieuwe Bibliotheek was very nice. A few high-rise office towers are close to the railway station, a bit North of the City Centre, and don't dominate in the city centre.
The City Info desk of Almere (click here) organises various guided architecture tours and if you want to do the walk on your own it makes sense to buy a brochure (€3, in different languages) with an architectural walk of the City Centre. After the walk you could visit the Regenboogbuurt or Filmwijk (Movie District) or other districts of Almere to see urban planning at work.