Dutch primacy in world trade
Many historic cities in the western part of the Netherlands are
known for the canalside houses of the wealthy merchants and the
VOC (Dutch East Indies Company) warehouses in which the imported
goods were stored. By now many warehouses have been turned into
appartments and many canalside houses are now offices.
Stepped-neck-and bell-shaped gables
Outside Amsterdam the original function of the canalside houses
has been better preserved as can be seen in some VOC cities outside
Amsterdam. There we also find the well-known stepped-neck-and bell-shaped
19-th century workers’ housing by benefactors
HollandTheRideWay will not only pay attention to living conditions
of the rich citizen but also to the working-class housing estates
set up by rich industrialists in the 19-th and 20-th centuries.
Amsterdam School of architecture
In the wake of the Housing Act of 1901 social democratic town councillors
together with progressive architects such as Berlage managed to
realise a, for those days, very modern house-building of which still
many fine examples can be seen in and also outside Amsterdam.
Steel and glass of the thirties
The Van Nelle Factory , built by the architects Brinkman and Van
der Vlugt and completed in 1931 is a steel and glass construction
with as its aim not only creating an optimal functioning of the
coffee-, tea- and tobacco factory, but also improved working conditions
of the employees.
Noticeable is the extremely austere, functional character of the
factory buildings which are linked with each other by buildings
in which staircases, toilets , washing accommodation and possibilities
for vertical transport are included.
Council housing of the 20th century
At the end of the 20 th century the Netherlands were, in fact,
the only country in Western Europe where housing had become a very
efficient business with council housing of a high standard. Architects
show a great deal of social commitment. Lack of space forces them
to experiment with new forms of building.
In our programme we pay attention to modern house-building for the
lower and middle incomes.
In some areas of the newly reclaimed land of the Flevopolder, by
way of experiment in the eighties, the inhabitants were offered
the possibility to build a house in accordance with their own views
and preferences. The result was that we can now admire houses that
combine the choice of special building materials with ecological
soundness and deviant architecture. The houses did not have to comply
with legal building regulations and were at first only meant for
a period of five years.
Houses like Rainbows
Colours can greatly contribute to creating pleasant housing conditions,
which we can see in the Rainbow Quarter in a Flevopolder town with
its strict use of colour and uniform partition of premises.
In an old Dutch town Ashok Balotra ,also designer of the national
airport of Dubai and the Saud university in Saudi Arabia, created
a structure centred around the themes of travelling, discovery,
being at home and the four seasons. The Ring, the most important
spatial structure, the road for opening up the quarter, a circle
as big as the old inner city of the town, symbolizes being at home.
In this newly built quarter all sorts of statues, structures , fountains
and bassins were added to the greenstructure. Road signs, benches,
lanterns, street lighting, information signs, all this was specially
devised for the quarter and installed.
Rotterdam, city of architecture
We shall also pay attention to some other special architectonic
objects, especially in Rotterdam.
Pole or Cube dwellings
a special house-building experiment we must also mention the so-called
Pole or Cube dwellings of the architect Piet Blom in Rotterdam.
These houses, built in 1984, catch the eye because of their columns,
slanting sides and the forest of roofs under which one can walk.
Blom talked about dwelling as a town roof: houses are on a raised
level with public facilities underneath.
The pencil and the paper clip
At the foot of the inhabited urban bridge we find the “Pencil”,
the apex of Blom’s bizarre world. Carl Weber’s “Paperclip”
, containing 549 council houses, has prefab concrete front elements
with tiles in different colours which have been placed in such patterns
that the individual house is unrecognizable.
The Rotterdam Swan
The swan, a suspension bridge with a bent pylon designed by the
architect Ben van Berkel was finished in 1996 and was meant to represent
the Rotterdam of the year 2000 by its monumental symbolism.
Solleveld House, pearl of Dutch Functionalism
Rotterdam’s most recent architectural showpiece is the former
house of one of the managing directors of the Van Nelle factory,
a fine example of Dutch functionalism and built in 1933 by the architects
Brinkman and Van der Vlugt, also the designers of the factory.
Destination New York
In the restaurant of Hotel New York, the former passenger terminal
of the Holland -America line, and point of departure of many emigrants,
beautifully situated in the old but by now radically changed dockland,
you can regain your breath after your architecture walk in and near
Rotterdam’s “Kop van Zuid” over a drink.
Berlage and Dudok, famous Dutch architects
Masterbuilder Berlage designed the The Hague Municipal Museum (Haags
gemeente museum, 1935) By way of a covered gallery between two ponds
one reaches the entrance and the high reception hall.
The halls and collections among which Mondrian’s have been
grouped in such a way that the undifferentiated structure of the
traditional museum was avoided. The exterior of the museum, consisting
of yellow brick in an interweaving pattern to accentuate the non-supporting
aspect of the walls, is conspicuous because of balconies, pergolas,
display cases and stained-glass windows. The high chimneys of the
central heating systems and the turrets with lanterns at the entrance
are evidence of a symbolic touch in Berlage’s design.
Hiversum Town Hall
In Hilversum the architect Dudok, who worked in the spirit of the
Amsterdam School, strongly left his mark in the shape of 75 buildings.
Hilversum’s showpiece is Dudok’s greatest creation,
the town hall, completed in 1931. In the town hall, forming an entity
with the surrounding park, he tried to achieve both monumentality
and rurality. His interference went as far as the design of floor
covering, curtains, lighting and furniture. He even had a new size
of brick designed for the town hall.