Amsterdam’s New Erotic Center: Transforming the Red Light District and its Controversies

Amsterdam, known for its liberal and open-minded culture, has long been associated with its famous Red Light District. However, in recent years, the city government has embarked on a controversial mission to transform the district and create a new Erotic Center. This ambitious project aims to revamp the area, relocating the existing brothels and introducing a modern and more inclusive approach. In this article, we will delve into the details of Amsterdam’s plans for the Erotic Center, the proposed designs, potential locations, and the concerns raised by sex workers and residents.

Project 1012 and the Cleanup of the Red Light District

Back in 2009, Amsterdam witnessed the implementation of Project 1012, a plan initiated by a labor politician to revitalize the Red Light District. This ambitious project aimed to eliminate low-quality buildings associated with crime, such as window brothels and coffee shops. However, despite the initial praise for this unique approach, Project 1012 faced numerous challenges and ultimately led to the closure of over a hundred individual window brothels and coffee shops. Surprisingly, when attempts were made to assess its impact on crime, the results were marginal. The Red Light District still retained its image as an adult theme park with shady edges.

The Rift Among Sex Workers and the City Government

While Project 1012 aimed to clean up the Red Light District, it inadvertently created a rift between the city government and the sex workers of Amsterdam. The closure of window brothels and the continuous regulation efforts have resulted in a division within the sex worker community. The debate surrounding the future of the Red Light District persists, even as the newest mayor takes charge and proposes further changes. The introduction of bans on organized tours, cannabis, bar closures, and alcohol sales within the district has intensified the controversy. The city government even considers banning international tourists from purchasing marijuana and introducing entrance gates to the Red Light District.

The Future Scenarios for the Red Light District

In 2019, Amsterdam’s Mayor Femke Halsema presented four scenarios for the future of the Red Light District, with the aim of reducing overtourism and creating a safer environment for sex workers. The first scenario suggests permanently changing window prostitution by closing the curtains in the Red Light District, focusing on digitization and reducing the appeal for tourists. The second scenario proposes a radical transformation, relocating all the rooms in the district to other parts of the city. However, due to feasibility concerns, the city government is pursuing the third scenario, which involves moving a portion of the rooms while retaining the essence of the Red Light District.

The Design and Locations of Amsterdam’s New Erotic Center

To bring the concept of the Erotic Center to life, Amsterdam commissioned Dutch architecture studio Moed to design the new building. Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum, the concept aims to convert the linear streets of the Red Light District into a circular form. The design incorporates a continuous walkway, reminiscent of a parking garage, enabling visitors to explore the building circularly. The new Erotic Center seeks to blend the functions of hotel rooms, entertainment facilities, and a debate center, providing a unique and inclusive experience. The city government has narrowed down potential locations to North Amsterdam and the posh area of Grunozone, each with its own advantages and challenges.

Concerns and Controversies Surrounding Amsterdam’s New Brothel

Despite the city government’s intentions to create a safer and more inclusive environment, concerns and controversies continue to arise regarding the new Erotic Center. Critics argue that the relocation of brothels may displace sex workers, disrupt their established client base, and potentially lead to the loss of income. Moreover, some residents express worries about the impact on their neighborhoods, fearing an influx of tourists and associated disturbances. The city government must address these concerns and engage in a dialogue with the stakeholders to ensure a fair and smooth transition.


Amsterdam’s plans for the new Erotic Center signify a significant transformation of the iconic Red Light District. The city government’s vision to create a more inclusive and regulated environment has generated both support and opposition. As the project moves forward, it is crucial to consider the concerns of sex workers and residents, balancing the needs of various stakeholders. Amsterdam’s journey towards a new Erotic Center is a reflection of the city’s evolving identity and its ongoing efforts to strike a delicate balance between tradition and progress.