Category Archives: Architecture

A MINI-VIENNA ON A MINI-BUDGET

The Slovak National Theatre is a sort of reverse Tardis - big and grand on the outside, surprisingly intimate inside.

The Slovak National Theatre is a sort of reverse Tardis – big and grand on the outside, surprisingly intimate inside.

I had to hold back on a full report on my brief stay in the Slovakian capital. Now this article has been published in the paying press I can release it on the blog.

That’s a fine way to start a new year, and Bratislava is well worth a few days of any traveller’s time…

We canny travellers don’t usually buy the most expensive opera seats, but in Bratislava I make an exception. They’re a fraction of the price of the cheapest seats in that swanky opera house in that swanky city up the river.

I had my brilliant ‘Visit Bratislava’ idea just seconds after blanching at the hotel prices in neighbouring Vienna, the only place where I’ve seen ATMs issue €100 banknotes. They know you’ll need them there. Continue reading

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Filed under Architecture, Budget travel, Travel- Europe

SIX BEAUTIFUL BRIDGES – for bikes

Melkweg ('Milky Way') Bike and pedestrian bridge, Purmerend. Architects: Next. Photo: Velo City, published Prestel 2014.

Melkweg (‘Milky Way’) Bike and pedestrian bridge, Purmerend. Architects: Next. Photo: Velo City, published Prestel 2014.

I’ve been on a quest to find the best-looking examples of Dutch bike bridges.

My inspiration has been Gavin Blyth’s book Velo City, with its collection of great photos of impressive cycling infrastructure around the world, including the photo above of the bridge over the North Holland Canal. It was a thoughtful present from the Dutch children’s book SCBWI group – thanks!

Mr Blyth’s book concentrates on the newest and hippest. I like some of the old cycle path bridges too. I’ve been trying to do them justice with the camera. Continue reading

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Filed under Architecture, Cycling, Holland

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.
Continue reading

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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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Filed under Architecture, Holland

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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Filed under Architecture, Holland

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