Amsterdamse School

Discovering a part of international Expressionist architecture.

Written by Craig Berry
Former Creative Intern at VBAT | Superunion

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Olympiaweg, Craig Berry

What I love is the bold angles, the modular elements used and the overall rawness of the brutalist look;

often buildings in this style can be similar but they all have their unique charms. Some famous examples in the UK (particularly London) are the Barbican Estate, Trellick Tower, Robin Hood Gardens and the Southbank Centre.

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The Barbican Estate, Trellick Tower , Robin Hood Gardens & The Southbank Centre http://brutalism.online/brutalist-buildings
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Unite d’Habitation, Torre Velasca & FEM http://brutalism.online/brutalist-buildings

What is also great about these buildings and pieces of architecture is that because they were mostly built from 1910–1930 (when the style was most prominent) they have a great history and have managed to survive to this day.

This makes the style more important to me and I want to give a quick history of the style, the characteristics of it and then show some good examples around Amsterdam that I found and that I believe to be in the Amsterdamse School style.

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Scheepvaarthuis Type

It is distinctive as it has key characteristics that are easy to define and look out for.

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Immanuelkerk
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Cooperatiehof

Compared to modern sports stadiums and arenas I’ve seen — the brick oval shape is certainly very different with cutouts and columns around the edges.

After the 1928 Olympic games, football team AFC Ajax played their home games at the stadium; nowadays it’s used for local, national and international track and field events as well as once hosting the Dutch National speed skating championships.

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Olympisch Stadion Amsterdam

It has huge archways that you can cycle through and holding up these arches are columns with intricate spiraling bricks as well as heavy carved letters and beautiful art deco gold signage. Built in 1917 and designed by H.A.J. Baanders it is the oldest lyceum in the Netherlands.

Interestingly, during the Second World War it was captured and appropriated by German forces, using the school’s innocent classrooms as military barracks.

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Het Amsterdams Lyceum

In its heyday the building had around 100 homes, a post office and a meeting hall. It is named Het Schip as it resembles the shape of a ship although the shape of the building is very awkward.

The main focus is the section, which has the impressively tall brick steeple. I wasn’t able to take many photos of this building as when I visited it — and the museum — it was covered in lots of scaffolding and construction hoardings unfortunately.

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Het Schip, Craig Berry

It is widely accepted and regarded to be the first true example of the Amsterdamse School style and it is massive.

Built in 2 sections from 1913–1916 and 1926–1928 it was the headquarters of six leading Amsterdam shipping companies (SMN, KPM, JCJL, KNSM, NRM & KWIM). The overall design of the building was a collaboration between 3 of the main architects of the style and also close friends — Piet Kramer, Michel de Klerk and Joan van der Meij. What is really special about this building is the level of ornateness and detail on the exterior alongside the expressive brickwork sit 23 highly intricate stone sculpture heads of 17th century explorers, navigators and governors. Since 2007 the building has been home to Grand Hotel Amrâth.

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Scheepvaarthuis, Craig Berry
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Jeruzalemkerk, Craig Berry
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The Synagogue at Jacob Obrechtplein, Craig Berry
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Coop Midwest, De Baarjses, Craig Berry
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Mercatorplein, De Baarjses, Craig Berry

I do plan to create a bigger personal project based on this subject in the future.

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De Dagaraad, De Pijp, Craig Berry
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Lutmastraat Patronium, De Pijp, Craig Berry
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Cornelis Krusemanstraat, Craig Berry
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Het Sieraad, Craig Berry
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Hoefijzer Jan Willem Brouwerstraat, Craig Berry
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Johan M. Coenenstraat, Craig Berry
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Waalseilandbrug, Craig Berry
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Surinameplain, Craig Berry
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Zuidkwartiercomplex West, Craig Berry
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Timo Smeehuijzebrug, Craig Berry
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Oudemanhuispoort, Craig Berry
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Willem de Zwijgerkerk, Craig Berry
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Drie Koningen, Craig Berry

A game of chess is like a swordfight. You must think first, before you move.

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