Open House

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

Last Thursday we had an open house and grand opening of Appsterdam Headquarters at Westergasfabriek, located at Pazzanistraat 41. The students from the Rietveld Academie’s Sandberg Instituut have been working alongside us App Makers for the past few months as part of their VacantNL masterclass. It’s been fun working in a place that changes every day.

The time finally came for their “Vacant Appsterdam” project to end, so they presented their final project to their faculty, and we had a little party to celebrate. Of course we’d like to thank the people who shared this occasion with us, the students and faculty who worked so hard to make a place for our community, and the Westergasfabriek whose generosity has made it all possible.

The best way to thank them is to get you to come see the place. We have lots of tables, chairs, and unique architectural elements, all made from cardboard. This side effect of our zero-budget operations really comes to represent us as a movement, and as App Makers in general. You don’t need a bunch of funding or a fancy office to get started. You can build your great idea on a cardboard desk in a tucked away corner.

You really have to come see our HQ while you can. We’ve only got one month left until the Westergasfabriek needs the space. Better yet, bring your laptop and come get some work done on your app. We have plenty of plugs, bandwidth, and workspaces, standing and sitting, from dark and quiet, to bright and social.

This place is provided to the App Makers for free by the Appsterdam Foundation. The love our volunteers have for the community we serve impressed the Rietveld folks so much they helped build the place. It impressed the Westergasfabriek so much they let us use the space for maintenance costs.

Those costs, as well as direct costs to the students for things they couldn’t beg, borrow, or steal, come to a few thousand Euro. Part of that has been paid for by the Foundation, via loans from the board members. It’s not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but it is a test of whether our community can really support itself.

These past few months have really shown me the importance of having a place like this, where people can come to be inspired, to be productive. More than that, having a pin on the map associated with Appsterdam, having a place, a destination, for people coming here for Appsterdam, has really played a big part in our recent growth.

The Rietveld folks infiltrated our community, got to know us, then formed—through an organic, iterative process that we would recognize as agile—a sculptural representation of our community, of the spirit by which we associate. That piece of expressionist art inevitably takes the form of a free communal workspace, which you can all be a part of by bringing your laptop and working on your projects.

In addition to this contribution, and the contribution of the volunteers who show up every day to staff the place, we’ve all had to throw some of our own money into the mix, in the form of loans made to the foundation in order to get things done. We hope to repay those loans, and push things forward, with money donated by individuals and organizations in the ecosystem who appreciate the value we’re providing.

There are three ways you can help. The first is to help us spread the word. We want our HQ to be used, to be active, to be vibrant. Tell the story. Show people the pictures. Make sure everybody knows about this cool place—this living sculpture, a monument to App Makers and their work.

The second is to make a donation via bank transfer, or by Paypal ( You’re going to be hearing this from us more often, because we’re essentially following a public radio model here. We provide services we think everybody needs. People pay us based on how useful they find what we do, based on how much they can actually afford. There are people who find that business model naïve. The best way to prove them wrong is by donating.

Finally, you can help us keep this experiment going beyond May 15 by providing us a new space. We don’t have any money, but we have a readymade community of amazing, creative people who are also a skilled technical resource. You need only come hang out at any Appsterdam event to see how vital this community is, what it can do for you, and what you can do to perpetuate it.