The Land inside the Walls

Soul searching

The online and print project Het land binnen de muren ('The Land inside the Walls') captures the essence of the previously closed Marineterrein in the form of short stories. It also offers an alternative starting point for the dynamic development of the area.

Soul searching

The online and print project Het land binnen de muren ('The Land inside the Walls') captures the essence of the previously closed Marineterrein in the form of short stories. It also offers an alternative starting point for the dynamic development of the area.

  • Short

    The future is built on the past. Before the Marineterrein became open to the public, artists and writers investigated stories about the area’s past and its former residents. The serenity, the unique culture, and the personalities that existed in this place were documented in a series of stories, portraits, and interactive maps of the area. This in-depth attention to the past and the former users not only generated new insights, it also fostered mutual understanding and closer links.


  • Facts

    Objective: Translating the stories of former Marineterrein users into new narratives.

    Authors: Daan Heerma van Voss, Gustaaf Peek, Allard Schröder, Carolina Trujillo, Niña Weijers

    Portraits: Koos Breukel and Sander Troelstra

    Initiative: Sjoerd ter Borg

    Publisher: DAS Magazin

    Booklet: The Land inside the Walls. A booklet of stories and portraits. For sale in the gatehouse (green gate). Available in English.

    Website: Interactive maps and additional information can be found at

  • Info

    More information:

    Sjoerd ter Borg

    T 06 11192446


  • Forword to ‘The Land Inside the Walls’, 2nd edition, May 2016:

    Until recently, anyone trying to locate the Marineterrein in Amsterdam on Google Maps would be confronted with a carefully blurred out satellite image. The fourteen hectares east of the Maritime Museum were a classified zone – and had been for hundreds of years. Since the seventeenth century the military terrain in the heart of the city had at one time or another been the workplace of Michiel de Ruyter and Vincent van Gogh, the Admiralty shipyard, a helipad for dignitaries, a recruiting station for soldiers, a rehabilitation centre for service personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder and a safe house for Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders. Now, after more than 350 years, the gates have finally been opened.


    In the summer of 2014, in an effort to convey a sense of the unique character of the closed site, we asked permission to enter the land inside these walls with five authors. Marines and historians inducted these five into the history, secret operations, remarkable individuals and special culture of this urban enclave. The fictitious stories they subsequently wrote remind us of how things used to be, can let us imagine what might have been and allow us to speculate on what the future holds. Perhaps the site will never again be what it used to be, but the atmosphere of discipline and isolation has been documented in the stories by Daan Heerma van Voss, Gustaaf Peek, Carolina Trujillo, Niña Weijers and Allard Schröder (who, incidentally, had his national service medical here). The photographer Koos Breukel paired the visitors up with five regular users of the navy yard, while Sander Troelstra took the writers’ portraits on the day they were shown around by Deputy Commander Hans Bartelsman. The Land Inside the Walls opens up a new piece of the city through our oldest form of knowledge: stories. On paper and online. As an alternative starting point for the planned area development.


    A year since the book was first published to mark the opening of the gate, a great deal has happened at the Marineterrein. The Voorwerf opened to the public and the empty spaces welcomed dozens of pioneering entrepreneurs, a restaurant and even an onsite brewery. Thousands of people, from the Netherlands and elsewhere, have come through the gate to work, eat or sleep here. Since 2016 a new bridge provides access to a second area. This route takes you to Amsterdam Central Station within minutes. New life has also been breathed into the buildings lining the quay. These are now occupied by innovative organisations that, like the other tenants, are hoping to help shape the site’s future. This place appeals to them because of its peace, concentration and no-nonsense mentality. Together they are working on solutions for a sustainable society. And so, once again, the site takes on new meaning for the city.


    It is important that everybody who comes into contact with the Marineterrein is familiar with the stories and the extraordinary history of this place. That is why we give them all a copy of this book. And because we attract more and more foreign visitors these days, we urgently needed an English language edition of The Land Inside the Walls. Readers will discover that the site has always been in a state of flux. Its form and function have constantly evolved and will no doubt continue to do so in the future. What this place will look like in 20 years’ time is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain: the Marineterrein will be hugely significant to Amsterdam and the city’s position in the world. Some things never change.


    Sjoerd ter Borg – Initiator of The Land Inside the Walls

    Daniël van der Meer – Editor-in-chief Das Magazin

    Liesbeth Jansen – Director Bureau Marineterrein Amsterdam


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