FIVE AMSTERDAM BUILDINGS you should know about

Amsterdam's newest building. Queen Beatrix will open the EYE this week.

If you thought all Amsterdam buildings were cute 17th century canal houses, think again. Architects are still at work, trying hard to outdo each other with their eye-catching creations.

At worst they make an impact. At best, they break new ground in public and residential buildings.

Here are a few examples from my bike ride around town yesterday.

Let’s start with the very latest thing, EYE, the new home of the Dutch National Film Instituut.

EYE. Is it a bird, is it a plane?

The name is a play on its location on the stretch of water known to the Dutch as the ‘Ij’, pronounced roughly ‘eye’, and of course, it is a building dedicated to the promotion of film culture. 

While people seem very pleased with its appearance inside and out, it has come in for some criticism as being not very wheelchair-friendly. There is access for those with limited mobility, but seating in the theatres is only available two metres from the screen or behind the pillar.

The architects, Delugan Meissl, are based in Vienna.

Across the Ij from EYE is the apartment complex known as Silodam. It suggests a stack of containers, a nod to its location by the working harbour harbour.

Silodam - is it more interesting than a stack of crates?

Further along the water I came to the Muziekgebouw, the ‘music building’, Amsterdam’s centre for new and classical music. The attached Bimhuis is dedicated to the best in jazz.

The Muziekgebouw. We love the rough wooden floors inside, and the brilliant view from the foyer and cafe to the harbour beyond.

Architects MVRDV, building completed in 2002.

A short loop on the bike back towards Centraal Station brought me to two more remarkable structures. Arcam is the Centre for Architecture.

It's a centre for architecture, so you'd expect it to be a stand-out.

Designed by Rene from Architects B.V. Zuuk.

NEMO is the science and technology museum. Its ship shape seems to refer to the boats on the wharves that surround it.

NEMO. The name may mean 'nobody' but it took a lot of people to put it together.

The interactive displays inside NEMO are particularly aimed at young people. The grandchildren loved the giant bubble machine.

I find the exterior memorable, but not particularly aesthetically pleasing. It reminds me of the huge metal hulk of a stranded ship. That was probably the intention of architect Renzo Piano.

Some time soon I’ll do a post on the architecture of the new residential areas of Amsterdam. I’m very impressed with how the Dutch have tackled the challenge of building with limited space on reclaimed land. Stay tuned.


Filed under Architecture, Art, Holland

5 responses to “FIVE AMSTERDAM BUILDINGS you should know about

  1. Gian Banchero

    I fully realize that this is five hundred years past when the statement was made but the great Bramante said that in order to be a good architect one had to know a beautiful woman’s body and incorporate it into buildings… As one who’s studied architecture and fine arts both here in California and in Italy/Sicily I totally agree with the master… I don’t see handing my lady a rose (or an embrace) near any of these overly heavy rather boring buildings, they are interesting at first but then turn just a tad scary. Other than that I do thank you for sharing these provocative buildings/photos with us.

    • Thanks for this, Gian. Lovely quote.

      I’m sure you’re right that not many couples will be posing for wedding photos in front of these structures, as they do by the Sydney Opera House.

  2. The apartments that look like a stack of crates are interesting but ultimately ugly. I guess if you live there you don’t have to look at them! I like the Centre for Architecture building. Amsterdam is high on my list of to-see cities 🙂

    • Thanks, Helen. Silodam is actually on the end of a rather barren windswept former dock. The appeal for the residents is the view across the Ij, with its interesting shipping traffic. All the same, I wouldn’t want to live there.

  3. David Murphy

    Have to remind you Richard that London’s BFI is and has been squashed under the arches of Waterloo Bridge and has had one false start after another – each time caused by lack of public funding – to find a permament home in a custom made landmark of the same stature as the EYE! The last plan was to build on the under-used and rather seedy coach/car park sandwiched between the Jubilee Gardens and Festival Hall on land belonging to the Southbank Centre. It is a sign of the lack of clear thinking, lack of cultural priorities and sheer meanness of the UK that £18 to £24 million pounds of public money has been WASTED on a frivolous privately owned Garden Bridge Project while our great national arts, music, theatre and film assets go starved of funding. Is it not a NATIONAL DISGRACE that the Greenwich Royal Observatory has to go on-line and appeal for crowd funding in order to stop the roof from collapsing? So across the board we can only travel to Europe and hang our heads in shame at the brave and culturally magnificent progress being made there. Just two more examples in Paris: the wonderful new grand ciloncert hall the Philharmonie in North Eastern Paris and the recently announced project to refurbish and transform the long disused Paris Bourse in Les Halles into another stunning Parisian museum. Been to the Barbi recently? Sir Simon hates it after living in Berlin. Who can blame him!

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