In Amsterdam, the GWL-terrein housing development shows how keeping a community car-free can foster strong community spirit and encourage residents to live in a more sustainable way. Masterplan by KCAP.

GWL-terrein is a large-scale community housing development built on the site of Amsterdam’s former municipal water facility. A central focus of the development's masterplan was to provide housing predominantly for families with children and to incorporate environmental considerations into the design.

GWL-terrein consists of high-density housing and a series of linked public spaces. The development is car-free in its interior and few parking spaces are provided for residents. It is located less than 3 kilometres from central Amsterdam and is very well connected to surrounding bus, tram and train routes. The car-free nature of the development contributes significantly to its unique character and has earned the development international attention.

The developers retained and refurbished some of the former waterworks buildings, which has helped create a strong sense of local identity. The addition of a distinctive modern water tower provides an additional landmark to the area.

Since the late 1990s, it has been a central policy of the Dutch government to pursue urban renewal through a more balanced proportion of social and market-rate housing. This policy was implemented in order to combat the creation of “ghettos” of social deprivation, as well as physical and social monotony. GWL-terrein responded to this initiative by providing a mix of both social and market rate housing.