Before jumping to Amsterdam Architecture gems, Why was it called Amsterdam in the first place?
Initially, a tiny community of fishermen inhabited the city of Amsterdam. During the 12th century, the fisherman living by the river wanted to prevent his home from flooding. Therefore, they built a dam, and that’s how Amsterdam got its name. Mostly it was popular with a trade back then.
Certainly, part of exploring Amsterdam architecture gems is by simply walking in the city. Wandering around the old city makes almost everyone release its unique architecture and building’s strong character. Along all the canals and in the city center you will get to see the colorful buildings beside each other.
Cycling around the city
The city experience of Amsterdam is pretty unique. There is not much space for cars, you only have one lane for cars and the parking is too expensive (one hour costs 7.5 euro) to keep the cars away from crowding the center. Therefore, you can notice how cycling is pretty much popular in Amsterdam. You can enjoy the beautiful scenery and unique buildings along the way.
Amsterdam is popular that it’s the city of canals. Total number of canals is 165 and their length is around 100 kilometers. Generally the most popular ones are: Prinsengracht, Singel, Keizersgracht and Herengracht. They form a concentric belt around the old city. Back in 17th century, as more immigrants were traveling to Netherlands, the government had to solve the issue of space. Therefore, they had to dig the canals. Nowadays, people use canals for navigation and recreational purposes.
A definite thing is that Amsterdam has a lot of striking architecture gems, here are some of them:
The Stedelijk Museum is popular with its collection of contemporary art. Originally it was created by architect A.W. Weismann. However, as years went by the building became outdated. In the 1990s, the building did not fulfill the functions of a modern museum including fire-safety and artwork conservation performances. Then in 2004, design by Benthem Crouwel Architekten was approved for the extension of the museum and was completed in 2012.
The new wing creates a contrast between existing brick wall of the original museum. The new mass has a contemporary design with transparent entrance. Moreover, the building’s modern elevation expands as it rises up ending by large hanging flat roof.
The building has three floors. The entrance level has the entrance lobby, a library and a restaurant. The underground floor contains the largest free-span exhibition space in the Netherlands, a small theatre and performance space. In the first floor you can find more exhibition galleries connected with the old building.
Currently, Stedelijk museum along with surrounding museums create a significant cultural pole in Europe. Other buildings include the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum and the Concertgebouw concert hall, overlooks the Museumplein park.
The Van Gogh Museum
It is Dutch art museum holding the works of Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries in Amsterdam. V. W. van Gogh, a member of the progressive art movement De Stijl, along with The Kingdom of the Netherlands collaborated on this project.
Generally, circulation inside the museum takes place through its prominent staircase that cantilevers in the middle of the interior space. The main atrium space provides natural sunlight. Interestingly enough, the area of each floor gets smaller as we go up. Therefore, visitors can see galleries below them in each floor.
In 2015, the building had a new entrance designed by Kisho Kurokawa Architect & Associate. It’s the largest glass structure in the Netherlands. Mainly it is an all glass entrance hall that can hold up to 800 visitors and host larger events.
The 19th century building went through a complete transformation by the firm Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos. With the guidance of restoration architect Van Hoogevest, the new museum holds new galleries and spacious exhibition halls. What is special about this museum is how you’ll go through a chronological journey through the exhibits. You’ll get to see pieces of Dutch art and history from the Middle Ages and Renaissance until the 20th century.
The hall is a triple height space with a glass roof allowing natural daylight in. The mid main passageway is uniquely rib-vaulted and divides the space in two. New staircases connect the passageway to the hall. Moreover, the architects lowered the floor creating an underground zone linking the two sides from underneath.
Furthermore, an innovative move from Rijksmuseum is initiating the Big Draw campaign. The museum encourages people to leave their cameras aside, pick up a pencil and a paper and start drawing what they see. That’s because when you draw you get to experience more beautiful details.
EYE film institute
This building is considered to be the visual landmark of the new Amsterdam Noord quarter. Clearly the mass is standing out in its context with its modern structure among the city’s brick buildings. The concept follows the user motion to create a space and not really following a certain form. It gets its inspiration from the idea of film as an illusion light and space. In addition to its geometric design, the building’s special location overlooking the river gives it a special quality. The building has different viewpoints from each face making it react with the surrounding. The glass façade enhances the relationship between the exterior river view and the interior.
As for the interior, the smooth crystalline material surfaces reflect the incoming light. Therefore, the inner experience keeps on changing throughout the day. Furthermore, the idea of light movement enhances the building’s design concept that reflects on the conceptual idea of films in general.
The sloping promenade leads you to the building’s entrance. Large steps create an auditorium seating overlooking the glass windows. Eye Film institute also has spacious exhibition areas overlooking the outdoor terrace. Underground spaces got filmography rooms and laboratories. Materials vary from polished concrete in floorings and oak planks in several rooms. Besides aluminum panels in the cladding the outer surface.
It is located on the Eastern Docklands of the IJ Waterfront at walking distance from the old center of Amsterdam and close to the Central Station. The building was designed by Danish architects 3XN. The Muziekgebouw provides two concert venues for contemporary classical and contemporary jazz music. You can mainly access the building through a pedestrian bridge which leads to the upper foyer overlooking Amsterdam harbor.
As you enter, you’ll find the building’s main mass is a concrete volume with a roof slab. The building is 24 meters tall and has five stores. Uniquely the large curtain wall glass façade covers three sides of the building.In the interior space, the huge set of stairs act as a plinth. It supports two music-boxes which are the BIMhuis for jazz and improvised music and the ‘heavy’ Ijsbreker for modern music.
Moreover, the large public foyer that surrounds the concert auditorium. The foyer acts as apublic gathering space throughout the day. You can spend time at the grand café and exhibition areas. Using the waterfront as a catalyst, you can find an open space descending in steps from ground level into the water in front of the building.
Nemo Science Museum
One of Amsterdam’s most interesting landmarks is Nemo Science Museum. This copper-green shape by Italian architect Renzo Piano surely captures the eye. The building holds several science related activities and exhibitions.
An additional detail about the museum is that it used a tunnel as a foundation. The curvature of the tunnel actually inspired the shape of the building’s mass that seems to rise out of water. Others see it as a ship facing the water.The building is a five-storey house. The entrance hall and the main exhibition galleries have large windows. On the other side, the building has small size windows depending less on natural lighting.
While designing this building, Renzo Piano felt Amsterdam is missing its piazza. Therefore, he decided to add a special feature which is a roof piazza on the museum overlooking Amsterdam’s historic center. Uniquely, the sloping panoramic roof terrace offers an outdoor public space. The gathering space has seating, fountains and also open exhibition areas. Recently in 2013, the building had a green roof providing excellent insulation and less energy consumption.