Monthly Archives: 09/2017

Some travel in the Netherlands

Posted on by Jason Miller

A short trip to the Netherlands this summer gave me the chance to see some long-time favorite buildings in their native context. This travel also fired my imagination as to the possibilities of human-scale architecture and landscape, expressed through pedestrian and bicycle friendly infrastructure, easy transportation, and community gardens. 

People often think of bicycles when they think of the Dutch and it’s easy to see why: there are bikes everywhere, as well as the infrastructure to accommodate them. Upon exiting Amsterdam Centraal Railway Station, you cannot miss the sea of bicycles.

sea of bicycles

Bicycle Parking, Amsterdam Centraal

There is even a “garage” with multiple levels, as clearly there is no more room at street level.


Fietsflat, Amsterdam centraal

If you exit out the back of the station, there are floating bike parking lot barges, some with double-deck racks.

bike barge on the IJ

bike barge on the IJ

There are bikes everywhere – and not just used for personal transport. This delivery bike was seen in Da Costabuurt, a neighborhood West of central Amsterdam.

huge delivery trike

delivery trike in da costabuurt, amsterdam

Besides bicycles and their paths, Amsterdam is crossed by trams and ferries. In some places, the trams have their own rights-of-way, lined with cycleways and sidewalks, of course.

tram right-of-way

tramway, amsterdam

Free pedestrian/bike ferries cross the IJ and link the North side of Amsterdam with the city center.

ferries on the IJ

free pedestrian and bike ferries on the Ij

Transport to other cities in the Netherlands is easy via train, with frequent service on fast intercity trains.

NS intercity trains, Netherlands

NS intercity trains in the Netherlands

We took a train to the town of Ede, and then a bus into the Nationale Park De Hoge Veluwe, to visit the Kröller-Müller Museum, which is a beautiful museum of 19th and 20th century art set in a forested sculpture garden. The museum grounds are home to classic monumental sculpture, such as Sol Lewitt’s Six Sided Tower, as well as pavilions, such as Aldo van Eyck’s pavilion originally built in 1966 for a sculpture exhibition in Arnhem, but rebuilt at the museum in 2005.

Sol Lewitt, Six Sided Tower

Sol Lewitt, Six Sided Tower

Aldo Van Eyck Pavilion, Kröller-Müller Museum

Aldo Van Eyck Pavilion, Kröller-Müller Museum

The Kröller-Müller Museum has other pieces of ‘architectural sculpture’ such as Joep van Lieshout’s Mobile Home for Kröller-Müller from 1995

 Joep van Lieshout’s

Joep van Lieshout’s Mobile Home for Kröller-Müller

Via train we also visited the city of Utrecht, principally to see the buildings of Gerrit Rietveld.  First stop, of course, was the Schröder House of 1924.

Schroder House, Utrecht

Gerrit Rietveld's Schröder House

Not usually noted is that this small house faces an elevated freeway (behind the photographer in this picture). The land beyond the freeway was owned by Madame Schröder, and when the road was built, she commissioned Rietveld to build dwellings on the former farmland. These apartment buildings, known as the Erasmuslaan Houses, were built from 1931 to 1934.

Erasmuslaan Houses, Utrecht

Entrances, Gerrit Rietveld's Erasmuslaan 1-3, Utrecht

We also visited Rietveld's 1928 Chauffeur’s House, with it’s finely patterned painted façade and bright red door.

Chauffeur's House, Utrecht

rietveld's Chauffeur’s House, Utrecht

Chauffer's house, Utrecht (detail)

Chauffer's house door and facade detail

Utrecht is home to many more Reitveld works; for example the 1960 Theissing house, and examples of his furniture at Utrecht’s Centraal Museum.

Theissing House, Utrecht

Reitveld's Theissing House, Utrecht

Reitveld furniture, Centraal Museum, Utrecht

reitveld's zig-zag chairs and friends, including a red-blue chair prototype

Back in Amsterdam, we took time off from architectural delights to visit a few of the community, or allotment, gardens known as volkstuinen. They are beautiful parks full of small land plots where the Dutch tend vegetable and flower gardens and get away from the city to relax in small cabins. 

Volkstuinen cabin

volkstuinen cabin and garden

volkstuinen cabin

another volkstuinen cabin and garden

These allotment gardens are like miniature cities unto themselves – complete with miniature streets and canals. 

Tuinpark Nut en Genoegen
volkstuinen  "Nut en Genoegen" map, Amsterdam

Amsterdam manages to balance new large-scale architectural projects, such as the 2012 EYE Film Institute Netherlands by the Austrian firm Delugan Meissl architects, with more ‘traditional’ landscapes. Not twenty minutes by bike from the Eastern districts of the city, the farms and open spaces of Amsterdam-Noord, or Waterland, offer a timeless vision of the Dutch Landscape.

EYE Film Institute

Delugan Meissl architects' EYE Film Institute Netherlands, on the ij, amsterdam

cows in waterland

cows in waterland: along the durgerdam, amsterdam-Noord


Text and Photographs by Jason Miller, CED Visual Resources Librarian