July 18, 2009

Amsterdam more affordable, except for parking

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 9:23 am

Amsterdam slid from 25th most expensive city in the world to 29th, according to a recent Mercer study, as Dutch News reports. The one cost with which Amsterdam tops every other major city in the world is parking.

Other Dutch cities did not even make it into the top 50, with Berlin being a ‘cheap’ European capital at 49—is East Berlin dragging that number down? The top three of the Cost of Living list this year are Tokyo, Osaka and Moscow, in that order.

Car owning visitors to Amsterdam* are out of luck though. According to Parool (Dutch), quoting a study by Colliers International, Amsterdam proudly leads the list of most expensive cities in the world when it comes to parking, with a daily rate of 70 USD. The second city on that list, London, only charges around 55 USD a day.


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August 30, 2008

A peek at the Amsterdam Begijnhof

Filed under: Architecture,History by Branko Collin @ 9:09 am

Apartment Therapy visited the 70 square metre home of American radio maker Ruth at the beguinage in Amsterdam. The complex, simply called Begijnhof (Dutch for beguinage), lies smack in the middle of the city and is open to the public. Located just off one of the busiest streets in the country, the Kalverstraat, it’s a sea of calm on the inside.

A begijnhof, or beguinage, is a secluded garden around which devout women lived a life dedicated to their faith, outside the formal structure of the church. Unlike nuns, beguines took no vows and kept any property they might have. There are dozens of former beguinages in the Low Countries. Although the houses were typically small, beguinages are still sought-after property because of their court-yard lay-out.

De Begijnhof is no longer home to beguines, but still only women live there. Should you wish to do the touristy thing, and should you be able to find De Begijnhof, access is free, and the beguinage has a couple of trumps up its sleeve other than just being there and being unique. It sports one of the two remaining wooden houses in the center of Amsterdam (1470). The panels of the pulpit of the English Church were made by Piet Mondriaan, and there’s a second, Catholic church hidden somewhere behind the gables.

Photo by Andreas Praefcke, some rights reserved.

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August 19, 2008

Every new house an outdoor space and a bike shed

Filed under: Architecture,Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 8:11 am

Ella Vogelaar, Minister for Housing, Neighbourhoods and Integration, wants to force builders to produce an outdoor space (balcony or garden) and bike shed for every apartment built. An earlier obligation to do so was dropped in 2003. Vogelaar claims the market insufficiently provides the need for outdoor living space and bicycle storage, and so she is making the provision of this part of the building code, the complex set of rules governing the construction of buildings.

The ministery’s press release refers to an extensive study into how the Dutch live, the Woningbehoefte Onderzoek (Study into Living Needs), suggesting that this research was somehow the basis of the minister’s decision. Although I could not find anything about a shortage of bike sheds or balconies, I did find this interesting little pie chart (with small typos original typos introduced by me, now removed) on page 11 of the results of the Woononderzoek Nederland 2006, entitled “Types of outdoor spaces that houses have”:

Balcony plus garden 15%
Garden 58%
Balcony 23%
Communal garden 1%
No outdoor space 3%

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June 29, 2007

Groningen house owners to pee sitting down

Filed under: Architecture,Science,Weird by Orangemaster @ 9:20 am

meerstad1.jpgin a hospital sounded like a good idea, but what about in people’s homes?

Residents of the upcoming Meerstad neighbourhood in Groningen, Groningen province will probably have to pee sitting down permanently so that their urine can be separated. Contrary to the hospital that wanted to avoid putting medication in the sewage system, the environmentally friendly pee seperating project initiators, Hunze en Aa’s want to use the urine to help grow maize and cabbage. The whole point is that Meerstad is to become a really green neighbourhood.

Orangemaster’s note: it’s interested how men and small children are at a disadvantage, but not women. Just a thought.

(Link tip: ANP, via Dutch news)

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