One of the most remarkable buildings of Eindhoven is the former science museum of Eindhoven, Evoluon. The building was designed by architect Leo de Bever who died last Friday, and ‘light architect’ Louis Kalff.
De Bever came from a family of architects responsible for many buildings in Eindhoven. He worked on banks, hospitals and schools all over Noord-Brabant. De Bever studied architecture at the Academie voor Bouwkunst in Tilburg and at Cornell University, Ithaca, USA. In 2007 he and his brother Loed sold their architecture business to Leo’s son Stefan and to Heleen van Heel.
The Evoluon building housed Philips’ science museum from 1966 to 1989. When Philips started with cutbacks in the 1980s, Evoluon was, as a non-essential part of the home electronics giant, a logical victim. Keeping the exhibit up-to-date was considered costly and was highlighted as an important reason to close the museum. Since then Evoluon has operated as a conference center, but its lasting futuristic appeal has not gone unnoticed. In recent years, Evoluon was home of Kraftwerk concerts, Tedx conferences and science exhibitions.
Japanese artist Taturo Atzu, internationally renowned for his temporary art projects that touch upon monuments, statues and architecture, has transformed the historic weather vane and small roof turret of the Oude Kerk (Old Church) in Amsterdam by constructing a roof terrace enabling people to gaze at the city below.
Entitled ‘The Garden Which is Nearest to God’, Atzu’s first public project in the Netherlands, the artwork provides a unique chance to see Amsterdam, which otherwise would not be possible. The roof terrace is open until September 6.
However, not everyone is happy with having ‘artwork’ attached to this national monument, least of all the Friends of the Oude Kerk Foundation who have it out for the church’s director. Well-known Dutch author Geert Mak said that the church should not become the plaything of some art elite, while composer Elmer Schönberger said the church provided one of the ‘oldest silence of the Netherlands’, which this artwork, although temporary, has taken away.
A metro line that’s eight years overdue and counting, ugly late twentieth century buildings already being demolished and questionable clothing brands: downtown Amsterdam is too crowded with tourists and the prices are going up, pushing the locals out.
Urban and architectural geographer Mark Minkjan compares Haussmann’s clean up of Paris’ in the nineteenth to what is happening in Amsterdam today:
The city wants to get rid of its famous Red Light District, which lies just a few metres behind the Red Carpet [Damrak, as you step out of Central Station]; the number of coffee and tourist shops is being confined. In virtually all urban situations, temporary creative projects are parachuted-in to imperfect places to attract new audiences and new investments. It signifies the direction in which Amsterdam is going: it’s on its way to becoming an incredibly liveable, comfortable, clean and pretty city; but of course, the cost is its soul.
Dutch journalist Peter Veenendaal recently produced the documentary ‘City of Light’ about the design, construction, and social effects of Willem Marinus Dudok’s De Bijenkorf in Rotterdam. De Bijenkorf (‘The Beehive’) opened in Rotterdam in 1930 (the picture is above is from 1935), and after barely surviving WWII, it was destroyed in 1960 to make way for a subway station and a new department store designed by Marcel Breuer.
‘City of Light’ presents Dudok’s department store as an important model for retail architecture, including interviews with historians, former employees and local enthusiasts to bring the building back to life. Before the war, Dudok’s building was the first in Rotterdam to have escalators and an electric mat to automatically sweep shoes. The roaring twenties movies of Rotterdam before the war is a reminder that Rotterdam had to seriously reinvent and rebuild itself while other Dutch cities were more fortunate.
In Dutch with English narration and English subtitles:
Startup company MX3D that does 3D printing of metals and resin in mid-air has plans to print a steel bridge in Amsterdam without any additional support structures. Using ‘multi-axis’ industrial robots and an advanced welding machine, MX3D can print with steel, stainless steel, aluminium, bronze and copper in mid-air. In September the city of Amsterdam will announce where the bridge will be built.
“The robots will begin printing the bridge on one side of the canal and will create rail supports as they go. They will be able to gradually slide forward on supports, literally creating the bridge upon which they are crossing the canal.” MX3D’s bridge will be made of a new steel composite designed by the University of Delft.
The jagged roof of this warehouse and office space in Meppel, Drenthe was designed by Dutch architect Arnoud Olie to reference a 1950s weaving mill, Weverij de Ploeg (photo) in Bergeijk, Noord-Brabant thought up by world famous Dutch architect and designer Gerrit Rietveld.
Olie wanted to avoid the traditional ‘square box’ buildings that are typical for the region and therefore went with an upgraded Dutch design classic.
Designed by Koen Olthuis at waterstudio, a studio specialised in water-related architecture, this residence was built following strict regulations on limiting the height of the single storey structure. It features subterranean floor space, providing extra surface within the limited dimensions of the building envelope.
Located in Westland, not too far from The Hague, the house has a minimalistic look and a back terrace. Oh, and a great view of the surrounding water landscape.
Dutch artist Rob Voerman has set up a silver space module artwork called ‘Into the Grid’ in the oldest shopping mall of the Netherlands and Europe, Presikhaaf in Arnhem, which is 50 years old this year. Presikhaaf was once a prize-winning bit of architecture, but is now semi-vacant.
Last week saw the big opening of Into the Grid with Bas Bron, member of Dutch electro group De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig and a whole bunch of children with silver coloured cardboard boxes as robot outfits.
The interactive artwork was commissioned by curator and founder Claudia Schouten of Motel Spatie A.I.R., which holds lectures about ‘engaged autonomy’ and urbanism.
Rotterdam architectural firm MVRDV has won a contest to design a new skyscraper in Vienna by proposing a 110-metre tower with an “elegant, hourglass figure” that will reduce the impact of its shadow. The contorted form is said to prevent any of the surrounding blocks being in shadow for longer than two hours a day.
The initial comments on this building is ‘maybe it is possible to use too much glass’. The heat that will generate in summer would required specially treated glass, and ‘the bit about being concerned about shadow is creating a problem where there isn’t one’, although in some Asian countries like Japan it’s a huge deal.
MVRDV are well-known for other much talked about projects, including Rotterdam’s horseshoe-shaped market hall that will be getting a Jamie Olivier Italian restaurant soon, even though there are already two pasta places.
Anyone who has been to Charleroi, Belgium knows its particular mix of worn and torn houses, industrial greyness and general sadness that is contagious if you stay there too long. The city has a reputation for crime and violence, but has many good sides related to food, culture and even sightseeing if you give it a fair chance. However, it is a huge contrast to other nicer and possibly more economically sound Walloon cities like Namur and Liège, and surely like nothing you’ll ever find in the tidy, shiny Netherlands.
The film ‘Bienvenue à Charleroi’ (‘Welcome to Charleroi’) was shot by Dutch director Jelle Dijkstra and his good friend co-director and co-editor Derk Zijlker.
Charleroi was voted ‘ugliest city in the world’ in 2008 by readers of Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. High unemployment, crime and poverty rates, political and social scandals, abandoned factories and ghost undergrounds all contributed to this negative image.
Watch the film here and find out for yourself if it’s really that bad (English subtitles). At 5:59 there’s a sign in French that roughly reads ‘Life isn’t easy when what you see is black’ (as in being depressed).