The Japanese Baku Maede creative preferred medium is quite humble, whereby he transforms florals and other greenery into graphic visuals. His ‘bit flowers’ and ‘bit leaves’ art works are blooming evidence of this. Maeda has trimmed a variety of petalled plants and other foliage into square shapes, their geometric forms juxtaposed against the organic shapes found in nature.
At the Spaarndammerplantsoen you’ll find three Amsterdam School housing blocks designed by architect Michel de Klerk. The most striking, and well-known block of the three in the complex that he designed last, Het Schip (The Boat). Who goes to this spectacular block will have more associations with a fairy tale than laborers.
Spaarndammerbuurt in Amsterdam West emerged at the end of the nineteenth century and was set up for the workers who worked in the nearby ports. In the beginning it was a shabby neighborhood where landowners earned from poor homes. But after the onset of the Housing Act in 1901 the streetscape changed. With the implementation of this law a special Dutch housing tradition started. In response to the appalling living conditions of the workers a unique collaboration was created between government, corporations and architects, with the aim of achieving the highest possible, affordable quality housing for all.
The by Spaarndammerplantsoen, Zaanstraat, Hembrugstraat and Oostzaanstraat enclosed residential complex Het Schip was designed by De Klerk in 1917, commissioned by housing association Eigen Haard (Your Own Place). In addition to the original 102 laborer houses, it also included a school building, a clubhouse and on the side of the Spaarndammerplantsoen, a post office. The latter was an idea of Arie Keppler, director of the Municipal Housing Agency and driving force behind the construction of these housing units. Early twentieth century, the workers received their weekly pay cash in the pub. A portion was immediately squandered. With a post office nearby he hoped the workers would save some more.
Het Schip may be a spectacular example of how attractive a housing project could be. All features of the Amsterdam School are present here: sculptural, expressive forms of brick, lots of variety of volumes and materials and rich carved decorations. There is a link between mass and individuality. It is a large block of houses, and yet every house has something unique.
On June 12, Museum Het Schip was Amsterdam School Monument of the Month. In recent months they worked hard on the renovation of the museum. Visitors were given on this day a unique opportunity to see this iconic monument in a way that was not previously possible. Parts of the renovated building were for the first time open to the public.
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.
As a prop builder, illustrator and painter in Los Angeles, Jedediah Corwyn Voltz always seems to find himself surrounded by plants and half-finished sculptures. For his latest series of work titled ‘somewhere small’, Voltz has crafted tiny treehouses around succulents and cacti. ‘Building miniatures for stop motion always leaves me with a huge bin of scrap balsa, basswood, and various fabrics,’ Voltz says. ‘I found myself making little fantasy constructions out of that stuff during my downtime, which led to me building some more serious ones in little diorama settings. Last year, I built my first living treehouse and since then, I’ve made almost 25 of them — from tiny watchtowers in secluded forests, to quiet treetop meditation platforms, and giant bustling windmills and waterwheels.’ Visit his site here.
During research for the exhibition ‘Living in the Amsterdam School’ curators of the Stedelijk Museum did extensive research into the City Archives. A folder with 94 drawings of Scheepvaarthuis (Shipping House) sheds a new light on the origins of the architecture. The Shipping House was the first major building in the Amsterdam School style, which was ‘born’ exactly one hundred years ago, and on that occasion the style got its name. The drawings give more insight into the roles of architects Joan Melchior van der Mey, Piet Kramer and Michel de Klerk.
Early last century, six leading shipping companies were about to give a very prestigious order for a large communal building near Amsterdam Central Station. The contract was awarded in August 1912 to the relatively young architect Joan Melchior van der Mey, then 34 years old. For this great job, he put together a team at a later stage, with among others the architects Piet Kramer and Michel de Klerk, who were younger than himself, and whose drawing talents he gratefully took in advantage.
In the folder with 94 drawings it is easy to read and the cooperation of the triumvirate and the role that each had in it. In addition, the folder contains designs for interior components, and there were virtually no examples known. On the majority of the drawings an indication or sketch by Van der Mey, while the working drawings can usually be attributed to De Klerk. On one study sheet one can find furniture sketches of both De Klerk and Van der Mey, with instructions on a floorplan and detailed sketches. This indicates that the designers did not take a separate component on their behalf, but really the three of them worked together to the total project.
Unique in the folder is the design for a large carpet with a striking design, for the boardroom of Stoomvaart-Maatschappij Nederland (SMN) on the second floor of The Shipping House. Until now, there was nothing known about this remarkable design, and since its completion in 1916 no author has written a thing about it. Initially it was thought that perhaps it was a design by Michel de Klerk, as he also designed furniture for the space. A drawing in the ‘weaving notebook’ of Mrs Van der Mey however, shows that this carpet design is by her husband. Sarah van der Mey followed her first weaving lessons in Copenhagen in 1908, and then she wove on commission many rugs. On the found drawing, which will be included in the exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, shows that Van der Mey consulted Sarah to explain how this particular carpet had to be practically translated. The fact that Van der Mey worked on the design of the carpet shows once again the close cooperation with De Klerk and Kramer, in particular, this specific space in The Shipping House, for which the two other architects made designs.
A study sheet attributed with design sketches to Michel de Klerk shows a colored round table. This may have been the basis for a very good table from circa 1918 possibly designed by De Klerk and was made by furniture manufactory ‘t Woonhuys. Both the study sheet and the oval table will be in the exhibition at Stedelijk Museum.
Very different is the addition of a female portrait in profile at the right part of a page of drawings. This is probably the great love of De Klerk, Lea Jessurun who, just as he, worked in the architectural firm of Eduard Cuypers, where Leah worked until her marriage with De Klerk in 1910.
In the Jan Maijenstraat in Amsterdam West sits a large brick building on the square, that doesn’t at first sight equals the reminiscent of a church. The letters above the entrance indicates that it is indeed a church; the Jerusalem Church. It is the only church from the period of the Amsterdam School, both outside and inside have been remained intact. Reason enough to declare this monument to Amsterdam School Monument of the Month.
At the beginning of the 20th century was like decades before a big shortage of housing in the city. After the famous Plan South by architect Berlage in 1917, the city presented in 1922, Plan West. The plan was also known as the 6,000-houses plan called for the number of laborers housing who would appear west of the Admiralengracht. The Jerusalem Church was one of the three churches built in this area. Under the motto ‘City without temple’ Dutch Reformed churches collected money for years to pay for the construction.
The Jerusalem Church was designed by architect F.B. Jantzen and built in 1928-1929. The church, in tight Amsterdam School style, pops out of a block of social housing and fits harmoniously into the other buildings in Amsterdam School style in the forecourt. Connecting the church with the underlying housing blocks had been a deliberate choice of the architect to express that God will dwell with men. The design is clearly influenced by the buildings of the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, with the characteristic cubic shapes and flat roofs. The terrace structured building looks reminiscent of a temple from the Middle East.
The interior is designed as a unit, largely by Jantzen itself. Previously, he was guided by numbers and colors that had a Biblical sense. For example, the stained-glass windows are rich in biblical symbolism. But this is also reflected in the chandeliers, the central headlight symbol of Jesus surrounded by twelve smaller lights, the apostles. The dark furniture from tropical wood contrasts with the white walls. The 42-voice Furtwängler & Hammer organ in the church, has like the building a monumental status and was restored in 2014. Incidentally the church, which is still, as such, is in use as a branch of pop temple Paradiso.
This year’s Open Heritage Day Amsterdam celebrates its 30th birthday and as a tribute 100 years Amsterdam School will be celebrated. In addition to the regular weekend in September, it will open doors of a special Amsterdam School building, from April on every second Sunday of the month. The Jerusalem Church is the first to open its doors, and on Sunday, April 10th from 12:00 to 17:00 you can visit the building. Admission is free, during the tours they will tell you more about the building and from 14:00 the organ will be played occasionally.
Already curious? Look ahead to local broadcasting AT5 and its item Streets of Amsterdam from this week while visiting Jan Maijenstraat. Spoken text is in Dutch.
Self-taught Swedish photographer and retoucher Erik Johansson makes the implausible possible, turning outrageous scenarios into surreal yet familiar fragments of reality. His ongoing portfolio of photo manipulations sees landscapes unzip from the earth, human body parts shattered like porcelain, and buildings bent in half. Johansson describes his style as ‘photo realistic surrealism — surreal ideas realized in a realistic way with a touch of humor. I can’t really say that I’ve decided what I want my style to look like,’ he continues, but ‘it becomes what it becomes, I just realize the ideas that come to my mind and I don’t choose to develop a specific style to make that happen.’
Johansson’s recent compositions like ‘Impact’, ‘The architect’ and ‘Soundscapes’ continue his distortion of the natural world by morphing multiple images into one. For example, ‘Impact’ illustrates a lake, breaking apart into pieces of a mirror. the effect has been created through the use of 17 square meters of mirrors and a small boat, which has been carefully overlaid atop a photo of the surrounding landscape. ‘The architect’ is a brain-bending piece that plays with perspective and the distortion of space by forming an architectural optical illusion. Johansson documents much of his process in a series of videos, which you can see here.