Monthly Archives: May 2016

New Energy From The Dike

The building of the former power station at Hoogte Kadijk
The building of the former power station at Hoogte Kadijk

For over a hundred years, the machine building on Hoogte Kadijk houses the first municipal power plant. Once the bastion of direct and alternating currents provided a large part of the electricity needs of the city and the Eastern Docklands. This week the impressive engine room is the central hub during the Week of the Empty Building.

In 1900 the city council decided to set up a power company for ‘lighting and motive power’, a year later they began with the construction of the ‘Central Electricity Station’ at Hoogte Kadijk. The occasion was especially the desire to electrify the (horse)tram (steam)cranes of the Eastern Docklands. The oldest, eastern part of the machine building, dates from 1903 and formed together with a boiler room and a large coal shed at the side of the Entrepotdok the first plant of the Municipal Electricity Works. Special was that it was a double station. In addition to direct currents for tram and cranes they also supplied AC power for small businesses and domestic consumers. The location was chosen favorable, near the Eastern Docklands, but also not too far from downtown. Coals for large boilers could be delivered easily through the water of the Entrepotdok.

Archive photo of the interior of the machine hall
Archive photo of the interior of the machine hall

Soon the demand for power was found to be much larger than they had anticipated in 1903. Therefore, the plant was increased in 1908 where the machine hall at the Hoogte Kadijk was doubled in size to the west and reached its current size. The total floor area was nearly doubled with this expansion, making this complex to become one the largest warehouse complexes in Europe at that time. The difference between the old and the new part is barely visible. Both parts have a sober brick architecture with distinctive large arched windows.

Until 1931, the plant was completely in use for electricity. From 1946 the power production was transferred to other locations and the machines were removed from the building. In 1955 followed the partial demolition of the boiler room and coal shed. The very heavy basement of the coal shed still stands and was used in 2001 as a base for a by Liesbeth van der Pol designed residential building, named Aquartis. The engine house has been preserved and still plays a crucial role in the Amsterdam power supply: the eastern part, and oldest half of the building is used as a switching station in the 150,000 volt installation of 2 electricity companies. They still provide more than half of the city center of power. In the western half of the building, energy museum Energetics opened in 1999 its doors. When the museum ceased to exist in 2007, the hall was used for storage and temporary expo’s. This week several dozen students have to come up with a new feature for this tough industrial monument.

Interior of the former power plant
Interior of the former power plant

From May 19 to 23, 2016, the fourth edition of the Empty Building Week takes place. Students and teachers of different disciplines from all over the Netherlands work in groups to make plans for this vacant building. The Week of the Empty Building started from the need of the Chief Government Architect, the State Real Estate Company and the National Office of Cultural Heritage to encourage stakeholders and interdisciplinary cooperation between architectural courses. The Amsterdam Department of Monuments and Archaeology will contribute as a guest expert and are represented in the final panel.

Nothing Is What It Seems…

During its International Garden Festival — on from now until November 2016 — French designer Mathieu Lehanneur brings a ‘liquid marble’ installation to the courtyard of Domaine de Chaumont-Sur-Loire Centre d’Arts et de Nature in France. ‘Petite Loire’ highlights the ways in which marble, water and light come together to evoke a dynamic feeling of a river in motion. comprising a single piece of hand-polished green marble designed using 3D software, the surreal object reproduces the effect of wind passing over the surface of water, transforming an ephemeral moment into something solid. ‘Petite Loire’ — a continuation of Lehanneur’s ‘liquid marble’ series — explores the potential of using algorithms to manifest a transitory moment in time.

‘I wanted to address the garden with water as my muse,’ Lehanneur says. ‘The water whose presence we sense even before we first catch sight of it below the château, flowing uninterrupted to the sea. Some say the Loire is France’s last wild river; it shapes and nourishes the landscapes, it passes through without ever pausing along the way.’

‘Petite Loire is a freeze-frame, the river’s perpetual movement caught in a frozen, fossilized moment. A few dozen meters above the river’s natural level, Petite Loire cuts cleanly through the garden’s surface, delving into the soil to reveal a fluvial relief, both vertiginous and practicable, in green marble. I hope that, when passing the chateau gates, the visitor will experience something that comes close to a magic portal, to a forbidden place in so many fairytales. Everything is liquid in this space, evanescent, enlightened, and yet it is executed in a material that is the one of the most solid imaginable.’


May 5, 71 years later


The Netherlands is the only country in Europe that commemorates the victims of the Second World War and celebrates its liberation on two separate but consecutive days. We remember the Dutch victims of wartime violence on May 4, and on May 5 we celebrate our freedom.

The fact that the Netherlands observes Remembrance Day and celebrates Liberation Day, the day on which the German army capitulated, on two separate days is primarily the result of the strong influence that former members of the resistance had in Dutch society directly after the Second World War. The Dutch resistance had already gained considerable authority during the war. After the country had been liberated, the former resistance was relatively well organized and prominently represented in government circles. The most important reason why the national commemoration of Remembrance Day takes place on May 4 and not on May 5 is that directly after the Second World War, both the survivors and the bereaved in the former resistance circles found it inappropriate to mourn the victims of war and to celebrate the liberation on the same day. In their view, the emotions that went along with both sets of memories were incompatible. As the Netherlands had not played an active role in the First World War, the country did not already have a tradition of commemoration in the mid-1940s. Whereas most other European countries had commemoration traditions of a military character stemming from the First World War, the Netherlands was free to commemorate and celebrate in its own distinct manner.

The Dutch tradition of remembrance and celebration that developed in response to the Second World War had a primarily local character. In all Dutch cities and villages, local committees, organizations, associations or municipal officials organize a remembrance ceremony on May 4 or on another day in connection with the local war history and on May 5 there is often a celebration in honor of the liberation and freedom. In addition to all the local groups, there are also numerous other organizations in the Netherlands founded by people who have been affected by wars. They often organize their own ceremonies of remembrance in connection with various different historical events. For example commemorations are organized in reference to (the liberation of) various extermination and concentration camps, such as those in Mauthausen, Auschwitz and Ravensbruck, where Dutch citizens were killed. While other gatherings commemorate specific events such as the bombardment of Rotterdam or the massive razzias in Putten, in the northeast of the Netherlands. The Netherlands also commemorates the war in its former colony the Dutch East Indies and the end of the Second World War on August 15. And each year the Auschwitz Committee organizes the Holocaust/Auschwitz commemoration on the last Sunday in January.

So besides May 4 and 5, there are over 40 other occasions throughout the year when victims are remembered and survivors and people concerned get together to commemorate. All these different experiences and stories converge on May 4. On that day, at 8pm, the entire country – including those who experienced the war first hand and everyone else who recognizes the civic importance of remembering – commemorates the victims of wartime violence in silence.


burning-candleIt’s really shocking,
if people are no longer shocked
by what happens to others,
because the disaster that affects them
is so far from their bed.

It’s really mind-boggling,
if people are no longer baffled
about the injustice in this world,
because it is the umpteenth report
they get to face.

It’s really dire
if people are not more dismayed
about wars and other violence,
because they get dulled
and find it normal.

Because as long as people are
still shocked, stunned and horrified
they will move
and they can give history
a surprising turn.

This poem by Greet Brokerhof, I’ve read in Dutch during the remembrance meeting at the residential care home I work in (a few hours a week).

There’s a quote written on a wall in the center of town, the previous wall was used as an execution place by a firing squad during the 2nd World War.

Een volk dat voor tirannen zwicht, zal meer dan lijf en goed verliezen, dan dooft het licht.
By R.M van Randwijk

Which translates in: “A nation that yields to tyrants will lose more than life and property, then the light goes out“.

Peace everyone!

Travel In Style

In an effort to bring world famous art to the masses, SNCF — France’s national state-owned rail service — has applied renowned works to one of the most heavily trafficked locations in the country: its public train system. In collaboration with 3M, the interior of a commuter train has been covered with graphic film that mimics impressionist art from the Musée d’Orsay; an imitation of the architecture of the palace of Versailles; and images from Cinema Gaumont — the oldest film company in the world. During their commute, passengers can admire ‘Morning, sun’ by Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet’s ‘Blue water lilies’, or the vibrant stained glass wall of the Musée d’Orsay.

While serving as a simple method to add beauty to an ordinary ride, the project also reflects the close ties between railroads and art. For example, the J line — which links Paris’ Gare Saint-Lazare and Vernon stations — travels through landscapes that served as inspiration to many artists. Similarly, the Musée d’Orsay began life as a railway station before it became a museum. as a result of the creative intervention, the artwork has dramatically decreased the amount of graffiti and criminal damage on trains, giving passengers greater peace of mind as they travel from one part of the city to another.

Freedom Sounds in Resistance Heroes Neighborhood

The Docker at Jonas Daniël Meijer Plein
The Docker at Jonas Daniël Meijer Plein

This year, it was 75 years ago that the February Strike took place. On February 25, 1941 a spontaneous and massive public protest against the persecution of Jews started that expanded rapidly from Amsterdam to Zaandam. Tens of thousands of Amsterdammers took part in the protest and put down their work on this day. Paving, garbage collectors and tram-drivers took the lead in the strike, followed by employees of the energy, water supply, public works, municipal laundry, cleaning, bathing and swimming facilities and other public enterprises. This particular day is commemorated annually on Jonas Daniel Meijer Square at the statue of the Docker.

Liberty Carillon - photo department Monuments and Archaeology
Liberty Carillon – photo department Monuments and Archaeology

At the start of this great protest was an Amsterdam paver. The underground Communist Party of the Netherlands (CPN) organized on January 24, a brief outdoor meeting at Noordermarkt. Surrounded by 400 Amsterdam senior opposition officials announced this road worker, Willem Kraan, to strike. Along with Piet Nak he is seen as the instigator of the February strike. In memory of the resistance fighter Willem Kraan (1909-1942) in 1966 the monument was unveiled called ‘The Antifascist’. This bronze statue (designed by Leo Braat in 1936) can be found in the Willem Kraan Street in the New West part of the city.

At various places in Amsterdam are places where we commemorate the Second World War, marked by objects. The best known is the National Monument on Dam Square, a prominent central position in the town. The monument The Docker is a statue of Mari Andriessen, unveiled by Queen Juliana in 1952. The Haarlem carpenter and contractor William Ter Metz which Andriessen had known before the war, posed in 1951 for the image. Probably they were also together in the resistance.

Liberation Festival Plein '40 -'45 in 1961 – photo ANP - Collection Amsterdam City Archives
Liberation Festival Plein ’40 -’45 in 1961 – photo ANP – Collection Amsterdam City Archives

Willem Kraanstraat is part of a neighborhood in Slotermeer where the streets are named after different resistance heroes. The central space in this Garden City is Plein ’40 -’45, a nice place with a fitting name for a special postwar neighborhood. It had also be named Krüsemarkt (the resistance fighter J. Krüse), Resistance Square, Slotermeer Market or Harbour Market. On the square the Liberty Carillon can be found, to a design by architect Dick Slebos, designated in 2011 as a municipal monument. “This square appropriates especially for placement of the carillon, as this square is considered as a center of Garden City Slotermeer and consistent with the district, which are called the streets to resistance fighters. With us also it is thought, a monument on the square place, that will be a concocted imagination of the resurrection of our homeland from occupation and oppression,” it said in a letter to the department of Public Works in May 1960 to the city council. And so it happened: after the bells of the carillon had sounded at various places in the city, the city council took the decision to final placement at Plein ’40 -’45. The carillon is now taking an important place in the square, together with the flagpole. Originally, there was also a pulpit, but which later disappeared. Slebos designed the belfry as an open framework with a small cabin for the carillon bells high above the towers. The carillon and the neighborhood surrounding it recalls the Amsterdammers who took action against the occupier.