If you step out of the city centre and head towards the neighbourhoods, you will notice a change in the shape and outlook of the buildings. This is probably a characteristic of all cities, but it is a beautiful story when it comes to Amsterdam.
Always concerned about the esthetic of their city, the Amsterdammers created their own architectural style – called Amsterdamse School (Amsterdam School) – when they started building houses for their growing working class, at the beginning of the 20th century.
Government institutions, schools and entire neighbourhoods were built in this revolutionary new style, whose roots are to be found in Expressionism and which combines elements of Art Deco and Jugendstil.
You can easily distinguish the Amsterdamse School style by the elegant decorative brickwork which combines with organic (round) shapes and context-related, symbolic ornamentation made of stone of wrought iron. Given the rich sea-faring history of the Dutch, a lot of the elements are pointing into this direction.
The imagination was pushed even further, so we encounter fishtail and arrow-shaped windows, all made from lots of tiny panes (known as “ladder” pattern) or, why not, an entire building in the shape of a ship!
To all these, add some stained glass and spires and you might have the feeling you are looking at one of Gaudi`s masterpieces in Barcelona.
I personally find this style rather heavy, but this is exactly why it combines so well with the atmosphere of Amsterdam, which is after all a city of the North. It`s more like a “love it or hate it” situation and I go definitely for the first for all the reasons mentioned before.
I have made a trip in the West last Sunday to photograph some of these examples of Amsterdamse School (as there are plenty in the area!) and I am going to share the findings with you in a series of posts. I have also taken photos of some of the Amsterdamse School buildings located in the Centre, mainly institutions.
Here is a selection of photos: