Tag Archives: architecture

FAKING AMSTERDAM – in Batam, Indonesia

Dutch gables, but not very convincing ones.

Dutch gables, but not very convincing ones.

After a few months chained to work and life in Australia (no bad thing, of course), Mevrouw T and I will be taking to the air again next week, flying first to Singapore, then by boat crossing the South China Sea, into Indonesia’s Riau Islands.

It’s become an annual trip around this time of year, visiting Telunas Beach Resort on Sugi Island to lead a writers’ camp for students from Singapore. I love it.

From Singapore we take the Singo Ferry for a one hour trip across the water to the island of Batam. I’ve heard it’s the fastest growing area of Indonesia and it’s certainly one of the most prosperous, thanks to its proximity to Singapore.

The ferry is usually crowded with Singaporeans visiting to Batam for the golf and cheap shopping and Indonesians visiting Singapore for the quality electronica.

But with newfound prosperity comes new development – ‘You want it fast, cheap and good? Pick two.’

Buildings are springing up everywhere and Batam developers are trying to sell property in estates that attempt to imitate ‘European sophistication’.

I know we privileged people who’ve seen the real thing shouldn’t laugh, but it’s hard not to. Continue reading


Filed under Architecture

STEDELIJK MUSEUM – fiddler in the bathtub

One of Marc's Chagall's finest. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

One of Marc’s Chagall’s finest. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Marc Chagall’s famous Fiddler on the Roof has been scratching away somewhere else for nearly a decade, while the Stedelijk Museum was closed for refurbishment. Now he’s back home in Amsterdam.

Until today I hadn’t realised what a superb collection of contemporary art Amsterdam has had tucked away.

Now they’ve pulled it out to be proudly displayed alongside the Rembrandts and Van Goghs the tourists come to see. Continue reading


Filed under Architecture, Art, Holland

GEHRY’S ICONS – great for tourists, less great for locals?

Frank Gehry's lunchbags

Frank Gehry’s lunchbags

Sydney’s big story last week was about a crane which caught fire and collapsed on a construction site at the University of Technology, Sydney, crumpling the building below it. Fortunately nobody was hurt.

UTS will soon get a building which is supposed to look as if a crane has fallen on it, when Frank Gehry comes to town. Continue reading


Filed under Architecture, Art


Another elegant Chicago building, I thought. Then I looked more closely.
I think the car is real, but everything else…

I thought this looked interesting. I looked again. I crossed the street. It was extraordinary.

LaSalle Towers, at 1211 North LaSalle Street, Chicago, was a nondescript high rise hotel until artist Richard Haas got to work on it in 1980. Continue reading


Filed under Art, travel photography, USA

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: Geometry – Bornholm, Denmark

Halse smokehouse. So where’s the smoke?

The Quintin Lake photo that inspired this week’s challenge made me think immediately of the shots I took when Mevrouw T and I cycled around Bornholm Island, Denmark.

It’s an island with a rocky, wild, windswept coastline, but every man-made element appears to have been meticulously designed.

In my original post about Bornholm I wrote about the colours, though I could just as well have focussed on the shapes. Continue reading


Filed under Art, Cycle touring, Scandinavia, travel photography

IJBURG IMAGES – shock of the new in Amsterdam

Over the Ij Bridge, a.k.a. the ‘Bra Bridge’.

Holland is full. Amsterdam is full. So when the Dutch need somewhere to put new housing, they think about all that wasted sea-bed just lying there waiting for people to live on it.

The new development at Ijburg has been years in the making and is still a work in progress. Building began in 1997 on six artificial islands east of the Amsterdam city centre. To see how things were coming along, Mevrouw T and I rode the bikes over the Ij Bridge, locally known as the BH-Brug or Bra Bridge, thanks to its two bulges. Continue reading


Filed under Holland