Tag Archives: architecture

WHERE DUTCH ARCHITECTURE IS A JOKE

The gable of the Zaandam Stadhuis (Town Hall) enters into the playful spirit of things.

The gable of the Zaandam Stadhuis (Town Hall) enters into the playful spirit of things.



Dutch architects have been hard at work in and around Amsterdam, inserting colourful humour into some very public buildings, and it’s remarkable that, in the Zaanstreek, local planning authorities have been happily going along with the joke.
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Filed under Architecture, Cycling, Holland

THE ARTIST WHO MADE VIENNA FUN

In a nondescript back street, one facade springs out is unmissable.

In a nondescript back street, one facade catches the eye.

At first I found Vienna and the Viennese a little intimidating. Too grand, too well-dressed, and possibly too expensive. The ATM dispensed 100 euro banknotes – it was the first time I’d seen them.

That Habsburg architecture is impressive of course, though isn’t it also overblown and pompous? Fine for a palace or opera house but would you really want to live under all those cherubs in the cornices?

So it was welcome light relief to discover Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who revamped a Viennese city incinerator and later the public toilet block in Kawakawa, New Zealand, making them surely the world’s most enjoyable garbage disposal units. Continue reading

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Austria

THE SHAPE OF OTHER THINGS – day of Amsterdam architecture

IJDOk - Hotel Room Mate Aitana.

IJDOk – Hotel Room Mate Aitana.

Continuing our weekend of exploring Amsterdam on the second Dag van de architectuur, Mevrouw T and I rode the bikes along the Ij harbour from Centraal Station to the new development at IJ Dok.

Like it or loathe it, it’s certainly at the pointy end of Dutch design. Continue reading

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THE SHAPE OF THINGS – Amsterdam’s weekend of architecture

Intel Hotel, Zaandam

Intel Hotel, Zaandam. Brilliantly witty or gimmicky kitsch?



Mevrouw T is a regular at Amsterdam’s excellent annual Dag van de architectuur (Day of Architecture). This year I joined her, and many others joined us.

The event’s popularity led the organisers to extend the 2014 edition to a whole weekend of walks, talks and open building inspections.

Highlight of our Day 1 was a boat ride along the Ij from Amsterdam to Zaandam with Mr Remy Vlek as our expert guide. Naturally I was pointing the camera at the sights along the route. Continue reading

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WHERE TOO MANY COLUMNS ARE NEVER ENOUGH – Vicenza

How many columns can you see in this picture? (Keep your answer to yourself.)

How many columns can you see in this picture? (Keep your answer to yourself.)



Vicenza is the city of Palladio, which means it is also the city of columns.

The Greeks possibly thought of them first, then the Romans copied the Greeks, then in the 16th century architect Andrea Palladio copied the Greeks and Romans and for hundreds of years thereafter every designer of a major public building in the western world copied Mr Palladio. Continue reading

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Filed under Architecture, Italy

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

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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

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Holland