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Why the houses are so skinny
Favorite thing: The residents of Amsterdam once paid property taxes based of the area of the front of the house. In order to get around this technicality, many of the homes were built very tall an narrow. The wealthier the family was, the wider their house was.
Favorite thing: I'm sure that everybody who visits old Amsterdam falls in love with its architecture. I loved those blocks of houses aligned along canals, supporting each other like people standing shoulder to shoulder. Some were so old that they seemed on the verge of crumbling. It made me sad at times. Our tourgide said at some point that she couldn't understand why the prices of real estate in that area were so high and still growing. The houses were built a few hundred years ago on something like wooden logs driven into wet ground for stability. Now living in the houses becomes more and more dangerous. If nothing is done, she said, they still have about a hundred years or so before they go down. Is that true?
From Russia with boo
Favorite thing: Look for decorated doors many of the doors have decorations, sometimes as nice as this cow.
Actually it were two doors with a cow's head on top of each.
This one was near the Radisson hotel, in a street called Rusland (Russia).
de Bazel building (Vijzelstraat 32) - 1926
Favorite thing: The de Bazel building is a classic modernist structure from the 1920s, located in the business center of the city. I like how it is now named after its architect, Karel de Bazel, who actually died in 1923 before the building was completed.
In the manner of other classic architects from about the same time around the world, de Bazel wished to integrate all of the arts in one building. It reminds me of the work of Louis Sullivan in the USA or Otto Wagner in Vienna.
The building was first used as the center for a trade association, later it served as a bank headquarters, and now it is home to the archives of the city of Amsterdam.
Favorite thing: Haarlemmerpoort - standing at the end of Haarlemmerdijk, next to the Singel canal - is the only remaining "city gate". Originally, similar archways guarded all the major routes into the city. Most of the old fortifications were removed when Amsterdam experienced a growth spurt in the middle of the 19th century.
The Haarlemmerpoort was taken over by the city government in 1825 and given a major facelift under the direction of architect C. Alewijn.
I love the 17th and 18th...
Favorite thing: I love the 17th and 18th century architecture. I love the fleets of bicycles on the roads, I love the tree lined canals and scattered parks,I love its freaky perverted and yet sensual lovely red light district! All these contribute to the mood of the city.
Actually you can't miss them -...
Favorite thing: Actually you can't miss them - that's the hook or beam coming out the top of all the houses and buildings.
Because the houses are so narrow, they are usually 3 and 4 floors tall.
Because space is at such a premium, the stairs are very narrow.
Because the stairs are so narrow, they can't bring furniture up them.
And that is why you find these hooks/beams extending from the housetops - to hoist their furniture (and any other large item)to the upper floors.
Of course, many of the older buildings were originally warehouses and used these devices to load up with goods from around the world, during A'dam's 'Golden Century'(thanks for reminding me sandravdp).
Although Amsterdam is a big...
Favorite thing: Although Amsterdam is a big city it has many little streets and many of the houses are little and built colse together. So when walking through Amsterdam you sometimes fell like being in an village completely overcrowded. But this gives the city another especially flair.
A rooftop view of Amsterdam
Favorite thing: Amsterdam is one of my most favorite cities in the world. The City itself is very easy to get around either on foot or even better by bike. For about 20$ USD a day you can rent a bike that will help you cover lots of ground.
Fondest memory: This is a pictureof the Amsterdam skyline taken from the top of a mall.
Look at houses of old part of...
Favorite thing: Look at houses of old part of Amsterdam. Some of them are so old, that there are no lines parallel or perpedicular to ground level. As you can see on this picture, houses are not so even - this is especially noticable when houses are standing in a row, like here.
Pakhuis Amsterdam - 1885
Favorite thing: Warehouse conversions are a big feature of the international architectural scene - part of a trend of re-invigorating central cities. It's a major "fact of life" that oldest cities all around the world - from New York and Boston to Hamburg and Amsterdam - no longer need all those massive brick buildings to store manufactured goods - the production has shifted to China and the global south. At the same time, there's an appreciation for the strength and integrity that marked the construction of these landmarks 100 or 150 years ago.
So here in Amsterdam - as in Manchester England and Manchester New Hampshire - you will find industrial warehouses converted to condos and offices. The Pakhuis Amsterdam is now the home to a number of internationally minded organizations - including Greenpeace! I think it's interesting that it was originally built as a cocoa warehouse in the 1880s.
New Canal Houses on Java Island - late 1990s
Favorite thing: Java Island is a development of new condos and apartments on land that once made up the heart of Amsterdam's harbor. In the mid 1990s, it became one of Europe's largest construction sites, as thousands of new residential units were created on what had once been waste land.
Java Island was planned by a famous Dutch landscape architect, Sjoerd Soeters. He "divided" the island into five segments, defined by four new narrow canals that have provided a distinctive "Amsterdammish" feel for this very modern area. Each of the canalside houses is just 4.5 meters wide, and usually four or five stories tall. Good use of space!
The new canals are Brantasgracht, Lamonggracht, Majanggracht, and Seranggracht.
Another interesting feature of Java Island is that instead of it being the work of a single architectural team, many different designers from different firms contributed their own ideas. These makes the place less uniform, more "urban." Too bad there's not more "mixed use development" - I saw very little retail here!
Also interesting are the pedestrial bridges that cross the canal - some beautiful iron work on them!
Skydome ("Black Widow" tower) - 1995
Favorite thing: KNSM is a man-made island just to the east of Java island, and is an additional area of urban development and redevelopment in this former industrial/shipping area. At 21 stories (60 meters), the so-called "Skydome" is currently the tallest residential block in the Netherlands, but it may soon have a neighboring tower which is much higher - 150 meters in all!
The designer is from the Dutch province of Limburg, Wiel Arets. I'm sure the views from the top units are impressive, but I can't say that I'm impressed with this dour and grim structure. It harks back to an earlier era of urban design - not one with many positive attributes, I'd say.
The Whale (Sporenburg Island) -- 2000
Favorite thing: This whole "east side" of Amsterdam is being developed as a showcase of interesting design. (I do wish it had been a brighter day when I was there - I'm sure the buildings look a lot more impressive when the sun is out.)
The Whale is a provocatively-designed residential structure on G.A. Tindalplein. Its exterior is covered with zinc plates, and at this angle it really does resemble a whale. (Do whales have scales? Hmmm. . . ) Chief designer was Frits von Dongen.
Downside: the courtyard is small and rather institutional. Prisonlike? Well, on a cloudy day, yes.
Scheepstimmerstraat - 2001
Favorite thing: This residential development on Borneo Island introduces a little piece of Venice into the harbor area! What makes it especially noteworthy is that the new houses in this section of the island were each designed separately, as part of a "Live in a house of your own design" competition!
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