City centre is moving north
22 June 2006 – The city centre of Amsterdam
is expanding to the north, making the railway station a real central
station. The city itself is becoming increasingly fragmented, claims
a publication on new architecture in the capital.
Zuidas, North/South Line, Parkstad, IJburg, IJ Waterfront: Amsterdam
is changing rapidly. It is therefore very nice that Amsterdam Centre
for Architecture (ARCAM) has brought together the most important
new architecture of the past three years in a richly illustrated
pocket book. The booklet is quite up to date: the aerial photos
were made only last month.
Recently, Bernard Hulsman wrote in NRC Handelsblad that
there is a new school in architecture, that he calls neo-expressionism.
Buildings in this style look as if they have been moulded. The photos
in the ARCAM-pocket form an illustration of his theory.
The recipe is simple: “take a box, cut in, according to taste,
some notches or even a hole, add some bulges, et voilà”,
there you have your neo-expressionist building. Sometimes architects
refer implicitly to the Amsterdam School, sometimes they do so explicitly.
This source of inspiration probably also explains the popularity
of bricks and austere rows of windows.
The ARCAM booklet contains an introductory essay by architecture
critic Roemer van Toorn, who is rather pessimistic about how the
city develops. In Berlage’s time, the public interest guided
urban planning; today, however, the market has gained the upper
Beautiful buildings are still being made, Van Toorn says, but they
no longer form part of a larger plan. In it’s place, a fragmented
and segregated city is emerging, with the rich living in gated communities.
In an afterword, ARCAM’s director Maarten Kloos says that
the city centre is moving north. For decades, the citizens of Amsterdam
have complained that the central station was separating the city
centre from the water, but as a result of new projects around the
IJ, the centre is expanding. The station is becoming a real central
station, with a second front oriented to Amsterdam North.
West and east of the station, and across the IJ, a new centre area
is created, with the Muziekgebouw concert hall, the Film Museum,
and the new Law Courts. As far as Kloos is concerned, a ‘fierce
confrontation’ will come about between culture and port; between
metropolitan facilities and shipping on the IJ.
Marlies Buurman en Maarten Kloos (eds), Amsterdam Architecture
2003 – 2006. ISBN 9076863466, 19,50 euro.
Borneodriehoek, Indische buurt (Herman Zeinstra, 2005). “A
striking characteristic of the project is its transparency and the
supple way in which, with modern devices, it fits in with the character
and articulation of the neighbouring buildings”.
Health Care and Welfare Institute, Free University, De Boelelaan
(Jeanne Dekkers, 2006). “In order to give expression to the
humane character of this branch of education, a volume with flowing
lines was chosen. This also produces a sharp contrast with the surrounding
rectangular architecture of the other university buildings and the
offices in the neighbouring Zuidas area”.
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