Urban blocks, often with ground fl oor retail, become evocative compositions of large- and small-scale elements. New Westerdokseiland developments offer aggressively sculpted and heroically-scaled volumes humanized by terraces, balconies, and arcades.
Housing, shops, and public walkways interlock to create rich sequences of suburban spaces built with America was laying out Levittowns. Recent center-city construction pumps up the scale and complexity to create environments with sci-fi overtones.
Blocks of housing surrounding intimate inner courtyards are typical throughout the Netherlands. At “The Whale,” a taut-skinned volume is shaped to form a strong urban profile, and then lifted up to expose space hidden within.
The Amsterdam School architects warped traditional masonry to make it amazingly light and fl uid. MVRDV continues their use of sculptural forms to express both individuality and collective identity.
Shutters animate sober masonry facades and let residents control their relationship to the street. Herman Hertzberger’s operable panels are part of a taut wooden rainscreen ingeniously hinged so windows play hide-and-go-seek.
Dutch housing is marked by sweeping horizontals that defi ne the street and towers that create landmarks. Ij housing updates this compositional strategy with a shrink-wrapped façade that is then sliced away to make urban-scale voids.
Limited space encourages creative strategies for developing housing throughout the Netherlands. “The Sphinxes” seem to sail down a broad canal while Didden Village fl oats above the rooftops of a traditional neighborhood.
“Spacebox” housing is made from seemingly off -the-rack modules stacked up along circulation scaff olding. The Sound Wall Houses sink modular units below a highway to cut out traffic noise. Both rethink the rowhouse typology through inventive siting and production techniques.