Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars of Amsterdam, known internationally for projects such as his building to be built using a 3D printer, has designed a house with a 360 degree view (video).
Inspired by the Russian game Tetris, Ruijssenaars thought up a row house made of blocks placed in such a way that every room has a different view of outside instead of just being able to see out the front or out the back. His idea was based on a building contest in Peru in 2009 which was about increasing density. By having more people use the same space, he was able to increase the density as well as the quality of the residences.
It remains to be seen who will be the first to build these houses. And although different, they do remind me of Habitat 67 in Montreal by Moshe Safdie.
(Link: www.telegraaf.nlPhoto of Tetris cookies by Rakka, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, Janjaap Ruijssenaars, Tetris
Dutch architects Jetty and Maarten Min of Min2 collaborated on a home in Bergen, North Holland they had built for themselves.
“The design includes a stunning arched rooftop, exposed tree-trunk columns, and clay tiles on the walls. The home offers breathtaking views of the surrounding dune landscape, particularly on the upper levels which offers large windows so the occupants can soak it all in.”
(Link: enpundit.com, Screenshot: min2.nl)
Tags: Bergen, dunes, North Holland
The Hoog Catharijne shopping mall in Utrecht, which encompasses the largest and busiest train station of the Netherlands, is turning 40 today. In 2016 it will also feature one of the world’s biggest bike garages.
Hoog Catharijne is currently being rebuilt, and a large part of the area around the train station is under construction. The buses below change places every couple of weeks and the traffic needs human help at street level to get going. Hoog Catharijne is one of the busiest Dutch shopping malls, and according to many, not one of the prettiest. When travelling across the country, popping out at Utrecht Central Station to go shopping for clothes or gifts without going outside in the pouring rain is a real plus.
Here’s the promotional video of what it will look like fully rebuilt in 2019 presented in Dutch is a sales pitch with a lot of ‘experience this’ and ‘discover that’. It has an all-white, fit and young cast as well, which doesn’t reflect reality. Sailing over the Catharijnesingel does sound cool: digging up canals is trendy because waterfront property is expensive. Charging up your electric car for free has to be a good thing although I can imagine that for the price of parking your car indoors, it isn’t a strong selling point.
Watch the old school 1970s promotional video for Hoog Catharijne in Dutch featuring key expressions as ‘oriented towards the future’ and mentions of Postwar rebuilding.
(Link: www.nrc.nl, Photo of Hoog Catharijne by Jeroen Bosman, some rights reserved)
Tags: Hoog Catherijne, Utrecht
The Netherlands is a European market leader of being stuck with empty office space, with 15% of all office buildings being unoccuppied. Amsterdam clocks in at 18% all on its own, with only Athenes, Greece being worse off at 20%, making it the king.
Since the office buildings have a high value, they cannot be easily converted into much needed living space, which is still considered to be ‘urgent’. In Amsterdam North students live in containers when they could be living in converted office space.
According to the city of Amsterdam, a healthy office market should be around 4-8%, allowing for moving, renting and selling. The city claims it is trying to convince office building owners to transform their buildings into incubators for smaller businesses as well as limit the amount of new buildings being built.
(Links: marketupdate.nl, www.vastgoedmarkt.nl, Photo of Rotterdam, KPN building by Roel Wijnants, some rights reserved)
Tags: office space
Toronto was probably the first Canadian city back in 2010 to build a Dutch-style ‘woonerf’, streets where the boundaries between the areas for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have been removed, and now Montreal and Ottawa are adopting them as well. They’ve also adopted the word ‘woonerf’, a typical Dutch word and construct from 1934 to go with it.
When I was learning how to drive here I had to learn everything about these special residential zones where the driving speed is ‘at a foot’s pace’ (about 15 km/h, although it isn’t actually specified) and where a car must give right of way to all other drivers (including cyclists) upon entering and all other road users upon exiting. As well, any drivers coming at you from the right in a woonerf have right of way, and parking is only allowed where indicated.
(Link: www.bnr.nl, Photo by Payton Chung, some rights reserved)
Tags: Canada, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, woonerf
Back in 2010 Slot Loevestein (‘slot’ means ‘castle’ in Dutch) was looking for new castle watchers, preferably a couple to also run its bed & breakfast. Loevestein is remote, tends to flood in the winter and the right couple is required to stay in the castle à la The Shining, come hell or high water, quite literally. Loevestein is again looking for a new set of castle watchers and we actually know people who are going to try and get the job.
This 14th century castle used to be a prison, and one of its most famous inmates was lawyer, poet and politician Hugo de Groot (Hugo Grotius) often protrayed as the ‘father of modern international law’. In 1621 Hugo de Groot pulled off a very cool escape in a book chest, an idea he got from his wife, Maria van Reigersberg who was living in the castle, albeit probably not locked up.
Some 400 couples have applied for the job this time around. Another common job opening that has this kind of response is for fort watchers on the artificial island of Pampus where being a couple and staying put is also a requirement.
(Link: www.amsterdamherald.com, Photo of Castle Loevestein by StimpsonJCat, some rights reserved)
Tags: Gelderland, Loevestein, Pampus
When I wrote Unesco pulls trigger on Amsterdam in 2010 I was unaware that a day later urbanist Michiel van Iersel would tackle the same subject a day later in NRC.
At the time Unesco had added Amsterdam’s historic city centre to its famous World Heritage List. Critics feared that Amsterdam would fare the same way as Bruges, a city in Belgium that has a lot mediaeval architecture still intact, but that also has the reputation to be staid and boring. They were afraid that the municipal government would turn the city into a museum in which nothing could be changed.
In an essay called Who cares about Unesco? Van Iersel counters these criticisms by saying that “in fairness it should be pointed out that the Belgian town was well on its way to being a museum exhibit before it was included on the list in the year 2000″. He adds that a Unesco listing is unlikely to act as a Trojan horse because if anything, Unesco’s rules are vague and ambiguous.
So, should Amsterdam embrace its Unesco listing? Van Iersel doesn’t seem to care either way. He feels the great number of sites on the World Heritage List has made it the Starbucks of distinctions. He proposes that Amsterdam should “pretend that UNESCO does not exist.” It doesn’t seem to matter much if you’re on it, because everybody else is, too. In fact, when Unesco dropped Dresden from its list for building a bridge, the joke was on Unesco: “in opting for innovation Dresden gave up its place on the list, while UNESCO lost one of its sites and also the support of some of its partisans.”
Tags: Amsterdam, UNESCO, War on Fun, World Heritage Sites
The Coen (pronounced ‘coon’) Tunnel which runs under the North Sea Canal in Amsterdam built in 1966 is currently being fully renovated, a project that should run until 2014. The Second Coen Tunnel (that’s its name) was built from 2009-2013 and has me worried as a passenger when I go through it. I thought it was just me that felt claustrophobic in that tunnel as compared to the first one (shown here), but apparently traffic psychologists aren’t fans of the very narrow tunnel either, calling it names like “crash tunnel” and “death tunnel”.
Since its opening in mid May, there have been 55 accidents in the Second Coen Tunnel (65 according to other sources), which is either way much more than the average of four accidents a week in the first Coen Tunnel. The experts say they are too many red lights (red lights are used to indicate the right-hand side of the road, while white is for the left-hand side), which look like brake lights, no possible place to stop like in the first tunnel and it is very narrow.
First Coen Tunnel (gets full screen near 0:25), with some hip hop music:
Second Coen Tunnel, straight up, no music:
(Link: www.kennislink.nl, Photo of Coen Tunnel by Erik Tjallinks, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, Coen Tunnel, traffic, tunnels
For many a bad sign, for a selected few, no more riffraff, as Rotterdam gets its first gated community, called Ringvaartstaete (PDF in Dutch). It’s only 12 villas of which 6 have already been sold, according to the real estate agent, with prices ranging from 900,000 to 1.5 million euro.
When I think of gated communities, I imagine inside them a scene out of the American movie Pleasantville, with its idealistic American 1950s. Then, there’s also South Africa with its compounds, clearly separating powerful white people from anybody not fitting that description. And then there’s the ones I flew over some 10 years ago when landing in Moscow, which separated the nouveau riche from the hopelessly poor.
What bothers me the most is that Quote magazine felt the need to caption their photo of the community “Not only for whites”, which I find it scary. The article also ‘reassures’ us, as the real estate agent claims they’ve had the honor of welcoming “their first ‘coloured’ buyer”.
See also Police arrest gardener in rich area because he’s African.
(Link: www.quotenet.nl, Photo by Kai Schreiber, some rights reserved)
Tags: housing, racism, Rotterdam, South Africa
One of the symbols of Amsterdam North’s NDSM dock area is a towering, 50-metre crane (‘Crane 13′) that is said to weigh about 300 metric tons. Today marks the beginning of the crane being dismantled and brought to the province of Friesland to be renovated.
Currently, a design hotel that will be 45 metres high and a small television studio is being built right next to the crane (or where the crane was). The crane will eventually be put back, a good excuse for a party maybe, who knows.
Tags: Amsterdam North, crane, NDSM