Safe and Sound Rembrandt Square – closed



Every weekend, the Rembrandt Square area welcomes many foreign tourists, Dutch visitors and residents in the evenings and at night. Bars and clubs are open until 04:00 or 05:00. Although the vast majority of the 15,000-18,000 people who go out at Rembrandt Square behave perfectly decently, some cause trouble, mostly because of alcohol and drug abuse. This ‘trouble’ varies from yelling and waking up residents, to littering and violence.

The Mayor of Amsterdam has designated Rembrandt Square as a pilot zone. Over a period of three years (lasting until July 2018), the municipal government, police, and bars and clubs of the square have been trying to minimise the misbehaviour (nuisance and violence) of visitors. Not in the ‘traditional’ way, such as adding more police, but by changing the way the square and the area around it is experienced and/or designed.

Hosts welcome people and inform them where to go, house rules are communicated, and the personnel of bars and clubs are trained in hospitality and dealing with drunk guests. Also, experiments are being conducted during this three-year period to influence people’s behaviour. For example, the brightness of public lighting is minimised, the square is cleaned more often, cycling and parking on the square is forbidden during the weekend nights, and better crowd management is being developed.

Distinctions can be made between troublemakers: one section consists of one-off visitors that don’t have a personal connection to the square, the second are visitors from the surrounding villages and cities, and the third group is made up of Amsterdam locals (who go out to Rembrandt Square more frequently). The troublemakers are generally between 18 and 30 years old.

There is always room for more experimentation and innovation that will help achieve the goals of the project: to diminish misbehaviour, lessen nuisance (e.g. noise), and reduce littering and violence. Inside the clubs and bars, there is also a challenge: how can personnel be helped to refuse more alcoholic drinks to visitors who are already too drunk?


The challenge

Find an innovative way to diminish misbehaviour of the visitors of the Rembrandt Square area.



  • Solutions that choose a positive approach are preferred: not repressive, and at least neutral;
  • The solution should be scalable to areas other than Rembrandt Square.

Background to the Rembrandt Square programme (subtitled):


Issued by: Programma Rembrandtplein