I went to the Netherlands by train Sunday night, October 7th. I had booked a bed in a sleeper car from Munich Central Station to Amsterdam Central station, arriving at 9 am. I was going to the Netherlands to take a class offered by EVDS which focused on the Randstad region and its urban planning strategies which contribute to an overall sustainability framework. Naturally, architecture plays a big part in the design and construction of this regional development. Quite a few of my pictures are a result of my being in these places as part of the class. The cities which I visited were Amsterdam, Delft, Rotterdam, and Utrecht.
My sleep on the train was surprisingly nice. After a rainy day in Munich, I woke up to the train breezing through the flat Dutch countryside on a bright, sunny morning.
It’s not a great picture, but I was excited to be in a new country!
Our first class tour was to a constructed island called IJburg. Now for those of you who need a little bit of reference regarding the Netherlands and their use of dykes, canals, and water in general, my understanding is that all of the water which fills Amsterdam’s canals is fresh water. The body of water which makes up the waterfront of Amsterdam was once a large bay of the North Sea, but was shallow enough that the Dutch could build dykes that connected land masses along the outer shore line, and drain the salt water out. This allowed the rivers to fill these huge areas with fresh water, and while at great risk to flooding, helped with irrigation and farming in the region. Now, Amsterdam is using this waterfront space to build island communities. I’ll reserve judgement on that topic for my class project.
As you can see in the first few photos, water continues to play a large part in building these new neighborhoods. Most people in these places have a front step to the street, and a back step to their boat. The last two are pictures from a particular street which has a rather architectural quality to it. Some of these houses are the work of modern Dutch architects, of which there are lots of great ones. It seemed that the Dutch tend to be quite partial to their own architects, as I am not familiar with many of them, and I find Dutch words and names are incredibly hard to pronounce.
Day two in the Netherlands started in the university town of Delft, also famous for their china which incorporates a special color appropriately called “Delft blue.” We were going to have a tour and listen to a talk about how the design faculty at TU Delft recovered from a fire which destroyed their previous building and allowed them to inhabit and construct an addition to a historical building, giving a new home to the more than 3000 students in the faculty. This would be an incredible architecture school to go to!
The “Delft blue” motif is incorporated into lots of things, like furniture!
The faculty has an incredible collection of original production modernist chairs, including this one from the Vitra collection. In a future blog post, you will see a scale model of this chair, and a price tag. Imagine how much this one is worth!
They had some really cool Lego models on display. Students getting to make models/have access to this much Lego? That is like a childhood dream come true!
This is how most of the chair collection is stored, on these big shelves with a rolling step ladder to climb up and take a closer look, like in a library.
A large part of the Eames collection. I’m sure we’ve all sat in a reproduction of one of these before.
Here is their awesome workshop space. Seriously, look at all the room!
The architecture library desk is made out of books, those which clearly did not make the grade of shelf quality.
This is the common space, heavy on the nationalist orange, I love it.
We went for a walk around the rest of the TU Delft campus, found this monster of a building.
This is the main library, bikes in the foreground. More on bikes later.
After leaving the university campus, we walked around the historic part of Delft. Like any Dutch city, you will find canals and old cathedrals, although this cathedral seemed to be leaning to one side an awful lot.
Just like any other Dutch front door, water access is imperative.
This is the bike storage facility at the Delft commuter train station. That looks like a lot of bikes, but it’s really nothing compared to the amount anyone may encounter in Amsterdam. I could go on for a while about how the Dutch love their bikes, and why it works so well, but I’m really not up for it.
Some graffiti next to the train station, in that famous Delft blue!
That’s going to be it, for now. I still have pictures from Rotterdam and Amsterdam coming up. I didn’t take any pictures in Utrecht, which I’m currently thankful for. I have to be up early and ready to get some school work done tomorrow. I’ll be back as soon as possible to get this backlog out of the way!