April 17, 2018

Den Helder gets platform over the sea

Filed under: Architecture,Design by Orangemaster @ 12:07 pm


Rotterdam-based architecture firm MVRDV won an international competition with their design of a Möbius strip like viewing platform called SeaSaw for the city of Den Helder, North Holland, the northernmost point of the mainland, across from the island of Texel.

Set to be completed in 2019, the platform will offer an all-around view meant to underline the city’s connection to the sea. And although Den Helder is a charming place where you can enjoy the sea, the country’s main naval base, the end of the railway line and generally nice folks, it also has some ugly old buildings that were in the running for the best ugly place in North Holland.

(Link and image: designboom.com)

Tags: ,

April 16, 2018

Footage of war time Rotterdam uncovered

Filed under: Architecture,Film,History by Orangemaster @ 10:21 am


New images of Rotterdam during WWII have surfaced, filmed by a Mr Jurlings. They show places such as the Port of Rotterdam (today’s biggest European port) and the ‘White House’, a beautiful 1989 Art Nouveau building that survived the bombing of the city and also Europe’s first skyscraper at that time. The film will be turned into a documentary by filmmaker Joop de Jong, which will be presented in the Museum Rotterdam in the fall.

Many people are quick to say that Rotterdam isn’t as pretty as Amsterdam, which has an intact city centre, and that will never be a fair comparison. Rotterdam was bombed flat and almost entirely rebuilt with the exception of a handful of buildings. Today, it has many new buildings that have become symbols of the city. There’s also a reason that the unofficial city motto ‘is niet lullen maar poesten’ or ‘geen woorden maar daden’ (‘stop blabbing and start cleaning’ or ‘not words, but deeds’.

(Link: ad.nl, Photo of Rotterdam, van Hogendorpsplein by Unknown, some rights reserved)

Tags: , ,

March 26, 2018

When Bijlmer was the city of the future

Filed under: Architecture by Branko Collin @ 2:00 am

bijlmermeer-anefo-joost-eversThese days, lively cities that don’t shut down after closing hours are the dream, but in the 1930s, the opposite was true. Architects were looking for ways to separate out the places where people work, live and play. The war threw a spanner in the works of their plans, but in the 1960s, the building of a new town near Amsterdam was started that would be linear, clean and uncluttered: Bijlmermeer.

This new town would be dominated by high-rises laid out in an iconic honeycomb pattern around parks.

The 99% Invisible podcast explores in two episodes how this worked out (episode one, episode two). If you don’t like audio, the accompanying articles are extensive. But if even that proves too much, here is the TL/DR (spoiler alert!):

In 1943, the Swiss architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (better known as Le Corbusier) published a book called Charte d’Athènes (The Athens Charter). It outlined exactly how to build new cities in the way the architects from CIAM had talked about back in 1933.

Many cities took some of the ideas and left others. But the city planners of Amsterdam wanted to go further. They decided to build a new neighbourhood, close to Amsterdam, that would be a CIAM blueprint — a perfect encapsulation of Modernist principles. It was called the Bijlmermeer, and it tested these ideas on a grand scale. When it was over, no one would ever try it again.

Bijlmermeer had trouble getting off the ground. Work on the sub-way line to Bijlmermeer was delayed and the tenants living in the roomy flats had to drive over a dirt road to get anywhere. And they did have places to go, because stores would not arrive until 1975. Disillusioned prospective tenants decided to stay away and a lot of the apartments remained vacant. This made the town a dumping ground for those that society did not want around, notably immigrants from Surinam, Turkey and Morocco, and gays. The empty apartments also provided an ideal place for criminals to hang out, and the area became a canvas for their work.

The lofty architectural ideals often clashed with the cold reality of how cities work. Flats were laid out egalitarian, they all looked the same and nobody got a better apartment than anyone else. Roads were elevated so that pedestrians and cyclists did not need to mingle with murderous car traffic. This had the unfortunate side-effect that motorists had no-one to ask the way, and since all the buildings looked the same, having people around to ask the way was useful.

Ten years into its birth, Bijlmer (short for Bijlmermeer) was turning into a ghetto. Crime was on the rise and the neighbourhood (the town had become part of Amsterdam) started to become part of the way the Dutch dealt with and talked about race.

The hammer blow to Bijlmer as the city of the future was dealt on Sunday 4 October 1992, at 18:35 in the evening. An Israeli airplane crashed into the Groeneveen and Klein-Kruitberg tower blocks, killing 43 people and wounding 26. The city decided to tear down most of the high-rises and replace them by smaller apartment buildings or houses. Amsterdam had learned its lesson.

Or so it seemed. In 2017 the city government decided a new neighbourhood full of high-rises and constructed according to the latest architectural principles is to be built on the edge of the city, Sluisbuurt.

(Photo of the Bijlmer’s first building by Anefo/Joost Evers, dedicated to the public domain)

Tags: , ,

March 19, 2018

Vote for the best ugly place in North Holland

Filed under: Architecture,General by Orangemaster @ 10:37 pm

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 22.31.51

Until Friday 23 March at 4pm CET, people can vote for the best ugly place in the province of North Holland (see link below). Even if you don’t understand Dutch, the 25 videos with all the candidates speak for themselves.

Watch and see places ranging from Beverwijk to Den Helder, Zandvoort to IJmuiden, and many more. There’s ugly stuff from the 1970s, 1980s and other decades that probably should never have been built or were poorly built and badly updated or are just plain weird and stick out.

All these urban planning gaffes are super obvious in a country that’s as flat as the Netherlands. And this was only done in one province!

(Link: nhnieuws.nl, image from nhnieuws’ Facebook page)

Tags: , , , , , ,

February 14, 2018

Amsterdam’s Homomonument gets protected status

Filed under: Architecture,Art by Orangemaster @ 6:19 pm


Amsterdam’s Homomonument has officially received ‘municipal monument status’, which means it now has a protected status going into the future.

According to the city, the Homomonument has a high cultural value as the first memorial commemorating all gays and lesbians who have been subjected to persecution because of their homosexuality. The city would also like to believe that it is also a symbol for Amsterdam, where everybody can be themselves.

The Homomonument at the Westermarkt fits into the surrounding streets and canals, and is the site for many outdoor activities from the Gay Olympics to all kinds of demonstrations.

(Link: at5.nl, Photo of Homomonument by BoBink, some rights reserved)

Tags: , ,

January 18, 2018

Films of things blowing away in Netherlands

Filed under: Architecture,Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 1:54 pm

Trains have stopped, planes are grounded, a lot of public transport is interrupted, a lot of bikes and scooters outside 24HQ have tipped over, and there’s a whole lot of Dutch reports of different things being blown around. Here’s a selection:

Here’s a video of all kinds of stuff blowing over.

See what happens to these solar panels.

And who needs the gym when you can do exercises with your car door.

Some people couldn’t take their train this morning because a trampoline rammed a train in South Holland.

UPDATE: This roof blowing off in Rotterdam Charlois is quite spectacular.

(Photo of solar panels by Mhassan Abdollahi, some rights reserved)

Tags: , ,

January 8, 2018

Netherlands gets first energy-neutral house

Filed under: Architecture,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 10:39 am


The small village of Abbenes, North Holland is home to the very first enery-neutral pop-up house in the country, based on a design from the company Pop-Up House that hails from Marseille, France.

Claiming to make passive construction easy, the idea is to build homes that are not only affordable, but also free of energy costs, in this case, natural gas. I specify ‘natural gas’ because electricity is not considered an energy cost for most people around the world, but I come from Québec, Canada where about 90 of heating is generated from electricity, with natural gas as a back-up during winters like the one they’re having right now.

“A passive house is a building which has limited heat loss and takes advantage of natural factors in its direct environment (bio-climatic design). A passive house’s energy consumption is very low and thermal indoor comfort is ensured all year long.” To me, this sounds great in a part of the world that barely sees a minus on the thermometer.

This Lego-like house (see video) also costs 80 per cent less than a ‘normal’ house and can be built much faster, in about five months, according to Pop-Up House.

Pop-Up House: the affordable passive house from Popup House on Vimeo.

(Link and photo: bright.nl)

Tags: , , ,

November 20, 2017

Helmond Castle toasts a century of weddings

Filed under: Architecture,Art by Orangemaster @ 4:51 pm


Next year, the Museum Helmond in Helmond, Noord-Brabant will be featuring an exhibition entitled ‘100 Jaar Trouwen’ (‘100 Years of Weddings’), and is asking anyone who got married at Helmond Castle, where the museum is located, to send in some wedding pictures.

Anyone who sends in pictures might be featured in their exhibition. As well as pictures, the museum will also exhibit old wedding dresses to give visitors an idea of the bridal fashion worn from the 1920s until the present day. Send in your pics at info@museumhelmond.nl.

Helmond Castle is the biggest moated castle in the Netherlands. Besides the castle, the world-famous textile company Vlisco that sells wax print textiles in African countries is also located in Helmond.

(Link: ed.nl, Photo: museumhelmond.nl)

Tags: , ,

November 17, 2017

Afsluitdijk lights up thanks to multiple art projects

Filed under: Architecture,Design by Orangemaster @ 3:45 pm


For many of us who have driven the 32-kilometre-long Afsluitdijk from North Holland and Friesland (or the other way around), it’s a short cut with a great view of the water and sheep. However, historically, the Afsluitdijk is a key part of the country’s world-famous sea defences, as well as a major Dutch accomplishment.

Yesterday, Dutch artists unveiled a design and light show to highlight this feat of engineering, called ‘Icoon Afsluitdijk’ (‘Icon Afsluitdijk’), which shines at night “to enhance and safeguard the dyke’s rich heritage and anchor its position in the world as a Dutch water engineering and design icon,” according to its creators.

The project consists of a number of art installations, of which the last one is called ‘Gates of Light’, created by Daan Roosegaarde and his team. They applied a reflective layer to the Afsluitdijk’s 60 floodgates, which allows the concrete gates to brightly light up at night in the retro style of the 1930s, when the dyke was first built by hand.

The Dutch have lit other important landmarks up, such as the Kinderdijk, UNESCO World Heritage Site, with colours matching the Dutch flag.

(Links and images: phys.org, lc.nl)

Tags: , , , , ,

November 10, 2017

A bright future for ministry building in The Hague

Filed under: Architecture,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 9:59 am

Saskia Simon and Kees van Casteren from OMA, (The Office for Metropolitan Architecture), a Dutch architectural firm based in Rotterdam, co-founded by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, explain the revamped architecture of a building at Rijnstraat 8 in The Hague in the English-language video below.

According to the video’s description, upon completion in 1992, Rijnstraat 8, the former Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) building represented an innovative office typology as well as an example of sustainability. Today the building, designed by in the 1980s, no longer offers the flexibility and openness required of a contemporary office space. In collaboration with the original architect, Jan Hoogstad, OMA developed an integrated concept for the building based on a renewal of its existing architectural qualities.

Although Amsterdam is the capital in the Netherlands, The Hague houses the government, but in true Dutch style, that doesn’t mean buildings have to be boring. In this case, a building was modified to become much more transparent – literally. And the video gives you a nice view of The Hague from a tall building, as if you were there.

(Link: archdaily.com)

Tags: ,