Art lovers will often know Gerrit Rietveld, of the "Red and Blue Chair" and the UNESCO-listed Rietveld-Schröder House in Utrecht, as well as Rem Koolhaas, winner of the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize -- two names that have established the Netherlands as a world power in modern architecture. Those who want to scratch this surface of modern Dutch architecture can do so at ARCAM, the Amsterdam Architecture Center, at its futuristic premises on the Oosterdok.
ARCAM aims both to inform and entertain, hence its dual purpose as an exhibition space and an information point; nevertheless, it's not just for die-hard architecture buffs, but also for curious newcomers to Dutch architecture. Temporary exhibits strive to relate architecture to other arts such as music and fashion, and a specially conceived series of booklets help tourists make sense of the cityscape. The ARCAM library spans both the popular and the technical, with titles for all levels of interest and expertise.
What's to See at ARCAM:
ARCAM's main attraction for visitors is naturally its exhibitions. The ARCAM Panorama is a permanent installation that narrates the history of Amsterdam architecture from 800 A.D. to the present; here, viewers will find a veritable timeline of how the capital expanded from church towers and canal houses to the more radically diverse architecture of today. Temporary exhibits explore special topics, and often touch on the interface between architecture and other arts; one especially popular recent exhibit paired fashion experts with architects to discover how both arts mutually inspire each other.
Other ARCAM initiatives equip visitors to learn about architecture on site: one of my favorite ARCAM ideas is the "Archishuttle" book series, which marks the landmark architecture encountered on a number of popular tram and bus routes. With a day-ticket and one of these booklets in hand, visitors can take their own architectural tours of Amsterdam, and come back with a deeper appreciation of the uniqueness and variety of Amsterdam architecture.
ARCAM - Architecture Center Amsterdam Visitor Information:
Prins Hendrikkade 600
- Tues. - Sat., 1 - 5 p.m.
- By foot - From Amsterdam Central Station, follow Prins Hendrikkade eastward until just after the entrance to the "IJ Tunnel" -- 15 minutes in total.
- By bus - Take line 22 to "Kadijksplein".
Call +31 (0)20 620 4878 or visit the ARCAM web site.