So, windmills! You can’t have been expecting that for Amsterdam photos, right ?
OK, jut kidding with this one. But most people traveling to Holland to photograph its beautiful capital do so with leafy canals, houseboats and tall, narrow red brick houses in mind.
And while there’s certainly an abundance of that around, as described in my previous post on “traditional” Amsterdam, it would be a shame to fly home ignoring the other side of the coin.
And, no, I am not referring to pot-smoking aliens, either …
Although, there is some of that going on as well.
So, what I’m really referring to is the Modern Amsterdam, built on or around water, just like the old town and which is home to stunning architecture that’s well worth adding to your list of must-sees.
So here are 10 photographs which I hope will make you want to visit this area as much as Centrum.
The Dutch are great navigators. Sailors at heart.
It’s very hard to find a new building that hasn’t been designed with an interplay with water in mind. The hall of justice (above and below) was inspired by floating icebergs. And while it does have a dedicated road access, the marina is just as important in the general layout.
I love towns that give water a major role in their landscaping and not just a utilitarian shipping port approach.
This can be said of major capitals such as Stockholm, Sidney, Amsterdam and London. And it’s probably the single most disappointing aspect in Paris. Yes the bridges are nice and there are a couple of canals to enjoy, but the banks are not always accessible and the Seine hasn’t (yet ?) been turned into the Superstar the IJ certainly is.
It’s a very different feeling from London. First because architecture is more homogeneous and angular. No gherkins or shards implanted in older areas. Generational segregation rules.
As a skyline, then, Modern Amsterdam is more austere and nowhere near as appealing as the slightly apocalyptic and oh-so-lovable jumble of styles you get looking a The City from the vicinity of London Bridge.
But taken individually, I do feel the modern buildings in Amsterdam easily win on architectural flair over the corporate pomp of The City.
The parallel between these two great cities continues. If you’ve ever visited the British Museum, you’ll immediately see what I mean. I think it wins hands down on glass roof design, but this one is still impressive and the early morning sun draws magical patters on the old walls. It’s also one of the few examples of intermingling of ancient and recent (Concertgebouw being another). Stone and wood meets metal and glass.
But it’s really not about a competition between cities. Both are magnified but the presence of water in their heart, Amsterdam even more so than London.
This is just an invitation for all to step out of Rijksmuseum and Anne Franck’s House to see that the present and the future also have a lot to say for themselves. And that, maybe, they’re at least as important as the past, however grand or tragic.
What do you think ?
Bonus track. Two more captured using a long lens from the bus taking us to the airport early morning (more on this here). Superb light and different vantage points really made this worthwhile.