There are many reasons to visit Amsterdam: a beautiful century center, drugs, Anne Frank, Rembrandt, a Lomo Gallery Store… When it comes to architecture, there is more to Amsterdam than the 17th century stepped gables and canals. In fact, there’s a whole architectural style named after Amsterdam: the Amsterdam school. I took some of my first lomographic photos of these buildings, but they are dying to be photographed by you as well!
Around 1910, a new fashion arose in architecture in the Netherlands. As always in this land without mountains, the main material was brick. But what they did with those bricks was something else! Sweeping facades, weird looking, sculptural elements, all topped up by – for that time – modern decorations consisting of sculptures, wrought iron, art glass, you name it.
And the nice thing was, that this was not just for the rich. Some of the leading architects of the period held firm socialist beliefs. ‘Nothing is too good for our workers’, was a well-known statement. So dozens of working class housing estates, schools, etc. were built in this gorgeous, ornate style.
One of my favorite examples of the Amsterdam School is Het Schip (the Ship), an apartment building in the western past of town (take tram 3 to Haarlemmerplein, cross to the other side of the railway, and walk west along the railway for about ten minutes). It is truly the masterpiece of architect Michel de Klerk, and extremely photogenic.
Walking trough Amsterdam, there are countless traces of the Amsterdam School. There are showcase buildings, like the Scheepvaarthuis (Shipping House) near central station that now houses Grand Hotel Amrâth and the Olympic Stadium. And there are loads of buildings and bridges that show traces of the Amsterdam School, like strangely modern looking iron decorations (the bridge behind the Scheepvaarthuis), or the very recognizable type of sculptures (Weesperplein), and many houses in for instance, the south part of town, sporting geometric wooden decorations, sweeping balconies, or the typical ‘ladder windows’. Once you recognize the elements, it’s fun spotting them in unexpected places.