My Postgraduate portfolio certainly wouldn’t be complete without documenting my summer placement in Amsterdam, Netherlands. A brief but exciting experience which, without doubt, provided me with the motivation and enthusiasm to face a final study year of architectural thesis and master’s dissertation.
On the completion of 5th year (Year 1 of MArch) and the eve of 6th year (Year 2 of MArch), (with thanks to University of Ulster for an ‘Opportunity Scholarship Award’ fund and former tutor Jeroen Van Mechelen for the summer placement opportunity), I booked my flight from Dublin to Schipol and prepared my maps.
I arrived in Schipol on the 11th of July, a big day for Netherlands soccer supporters… World Cup Final day! I travelled to Rotterdam to meet my Belfast classmate and housemate Vinny who was on summer work duties at his much beloved OMA. Along with his workmates’ we watched a sea of Dutch hearts’ break as a late goal from Andrés Iniesta sealed Spain’s lifting of the Jules Rimet in front of the public screen in Rotterdam’s City centre. I stayed that week in Rotterdam and spent the first week commuting to a transformed workshop in Amsterdam North, the home of Studio JVM http://www.studiojvm.nl/, along with SeARCH architects and Tom Frantzen et al architects.
On my first day at Studio JVM, Jeroen showed me around the studios and facilities and introduced me to the other architects, staff and Interns within the building, particularly the intern students at SeARCH who would become my second family for my time there. Jeroen also presented his library of both inspirational works and previous projects. Two of his books I found particular interest in were ‘Louis Kahn: Houses’ and ‘Constant’s New Babylon: The Hyper-architecture of Desire’, the first architect Louis Kahn would eventually become an important case study in my written dissertation ‘Twentieth Century Parliament Architecture as a Symbol of Power and Democracy’, the later led to further reading on The Situationist International particularly ‘Guy Debord: The Society of the Spectacle’.
The first project I was involved in at Studio JVM was ‘Brug BSH’, a proposal for a series of pedestrian and cyclist bridges linking the ferry crossings to the North of the IJ to the proposed new development area. The bridges consist of fruit trees planted into floating concrete structures that slide open and closed to create a series of moving orchards. I generated a development workbook with the following images under the direct guidance of Jeroen.Copyright @ Studio JVM Copyright @ Studio JVM Copyright @ Studio JVM
On the 13th of July we took a break from the studio to watch the homecoming of the Dutch soccer team, the people of Amsterdam took to the streets and the banks of the IJ as Sneijder, Robben, Kuyt, Van Persie and co. were congratulated on their heroic world cup campaign.
The Dutch Soccer Team Return
After 1 week of commuting from Rotterdam to Amsterdam I moved to a student apartment on almost the top floor of a 17 storey social housing block on Staalmeesterslaan, to the West of Rembrandt Park, in West Amsterdam. I spent a month here for 100euro/week while an Amsterdam student went on her summer holidays. I also purchased a bike at Waterlooplein Market for 15euro.
View from apartment
View from apartment by night
The second project I was involved in at Studio JVM was ‘Villa Roefs’, a large extension to a dwelling to replace an existing one built in 1996. The extension should allow the green trees of the surrounding context to become part of the internal experience. For this project I built an existing and development model that produced the following images, again under the direct guidance of Jeroen.Copyright @ Studio JVM Copyright @ Studio JVM
One of my first weekend studies was to Borneo Sporenburg, a housing master-plan by West 8 within a wider 17,000 strong housing district on the Eastern Docklands of Amsterdam. The master-plan divides the 2,500 low rise housing into 3 zones with 3 large sculptural blocks of high-rise high-density housing to act as landmarks. ‘The Whale’ housing is one of these large blocks.
The Whale Housing, Borneo Sporenburg by West 8
The Whale Housing, Borneo Sporenburg by West 8
Borneo Sporenburg, Low Density Housing
Amsterdam to Almere (..and back again!) – A 70km cycle trip
Amsterdam to Almere Cycle Route
My second weekend trip was to Almere, 35km East of Amsterdam and the municipality of the reclaimed Flevoland. Almere is the youngest city in the Netherlands, less than 20 years old. I took off early Saturday morning from my student-pad in Rembrandt Park and made a direct route East across Amsterdam.
I stopped in a little town called Muiden for lunch, a beautiful quaint peaceful Dutch town with narrow streets decorated with brick paving and steep brick gables.
Canal Brug Muiden
I took another break in Muiderburg, another pretty Dutch town with a miniature strand at the foot of the Markermeer lake.
After over 35km of Cycling on the clear summers day I eventually made it to Almere. Unlike the dense, intimate network of busy streets and canals in Amsterdam, Almere was vast spacious and each building and the spaces between buildings were at a bigger scale and proportion. It was gulliver’s travels. The OMA master-planned city centre is a careful montage of post-modern heavyweights from Will Alsop to SANAA.