Humans of NDSM | Sjoerd Jonkers: resident and designer at NDSM
In the Humans of NDSM column, I go on a hunt for special stories from all the people who can be found at the NDSM wharf: from users to visitors to creatives and everything in between. I am curious what motivates them to come to the NDSM wharf. At the end of this column, the aim is to paint a picture of who the recruiters are and all their different ways of filling in and using public space. For this edition I speak with Sjoerd Jonkers (37) designer, resident of NDSM, and bicycle enthusiast with a sustainability vision for transport within the city.
I speak to Sjoerd at the office of Stichting NDSM-werf (T.T. Neveritaweg 61), where we settle down in the sun by the water for a conversation. Sjoerd’s bicycle is in front of our bench. “Bicycle” is actually an understatement for what he tours the city and the surrounding area with. It is in fact an e-fatbike, but without the clumsiness, cumbersomeness of a cargo bike and sometimes the somewhat dull image of a regular electric bicycle. I have seen Sjoerd cruising around the NDSM wharf on this cool two-wheeler before, as he is one of the happy residents in one of the new construction projects on the west side of the wharf. Curious about what kind of shipyard Sjoerd is, we start talking.
“I’m originally from Breda,” Sjoerd begins to tell, “I moved to Amsterdam because I was going to study at the Rietveld Academy, then I stayed in the city to work and live. I think that of the 15 years that I have lived in Amsterdam, I have now been living in Noord for 9 years.”
“It’s very nice here,” says Sjoerd when I ask him what it’s like to live at NDSM, “I used to come here often and gladly, because this part of the city was still raw and undiscovered. There were always crazy parties here and weird floating objects where obscure things happened, that was a really crazy time.” I have often heard this story from shipyards who have been at the NDSM wharf for some time. The yard looks very different from a few years ago. I ask Sjoerd what he thinks of all that change. He shrugs and says: “The shifts in the interpretation of spaces are inherent to life in the city and urbanization.”
The attraction of this place for me is that it is spacious here
“The memories you have of a place as it used to be and trying to keep it won’t work anywhere. That’s like going back to a place from your childhood that you haven’t been to in a long time and finding out that that place has changed from how you remember it, which I think is a nice process to see in a city: things change over time, but it’s your perception and your memories that make a place what it is to you. It is good that spaces in the city change over time, provided of course that this is done with respect for the environment, history and culture.”
I then ask Sjoerd what he does for work and what he is currently busy with. “I’m currently promoting these e-fatbikes in Amsterdam,” he says, “I’m a designer by nature and can therefore create space within the framework of an idea. I think pioneering and setting up concepts is the most awesome thing to do. This is also the case with this e-fatbike, which started out in a personal search. I found myself often taking my car for trips within or around the city and making a lot of miles. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult for cars in the city: parking is expensive and impractical, and it is not good for the environment.”
You see many different lives and worlds moving side by side here
“I had a car because I wanted freedom, but I find that I have that same freedom with this e-fatbike. This is also part of urban development: the city keeps expanding and sooner or later we have to get rid of those cars. That means you have to have an alternative with enough range to fill that demand and I think this e-fatbike could be a really good solution for that.” Sjoerd then tells me how he came across the design of this bike in Berlin a few years ago, and saw an opportunity to represent the brand in Amsterdam.”
To come back to the subject of NDSM, I then ask Sjoerd if he has a favorite spot on the wharf. He has to think about this for a moment. “When I walked outside during the lockdown,” he says after a short silence, “I would sometimes get two IJ-witjes beers from IJver and then I would walk across the Load-Out with my girlfriend and we would sit down to watch over the water. That was always a very nice time of the day; complete relaxation. The appeal of this place for me is that it is wide here, there is space, and with space there is freedom. Freedom in square meters, but also in vision and creativity. There is a random mix of people here: on the one hand there are Audi enthusiasts with tuned cars, on the other hand there is someone who just wants to enjoy the view. That freedom is here, all kinds of people can be here. It almost melts together, I don’t find it chafing or clashing. You see many different lives and worlds moving side by side.”
Finally, I ask Sjoerd what his plans for the future are. “I am looking for a location at the NDSM wharf where I can start renting out these e-fatbikes this summer,” he says, “I would like to work with a party on the wharf, so here’s a appeal to all entrepreneurs at the NDSM wharf who have a few square meters left from which I can offer the bicycles. I’m open to all suggestions and constructions! Because if I can live and work here, then the picture is complete for me.”
One of the perks of my job is that I was also allowed to ride a round on the e-fatbike a.k.a. urban drive style bike. While I’m tearing up the Load-Out with the wind running through my hair, I can’t help but agree with Sjoerd: this is a good alternative to a car in and around the city. “I have cycled 2000 kilometers during the Lockdown in the past five months,” Sjoerd shouts while I make another round, “I pick up my son from school, I go out with him and my girlfriend, at the weekend we go to the city in or out. So I have already left the car for 2000 kilometers, which is really a very nice realization.
Have you become curious about this super flashy e-fatbike? Then check the website here. You can also book a test ride with Sjoerd to try out the bike, something I can definitely recommend! Renting a bike will soon also be an option. You can reach Sjoerd via social media or by calling 06-42758766.