by Jen Chiappone
According to False Flat by Aaron Betsky with Adam Eeuwens, Dutch design is so good because it does not draw attention to the process of the building being made. It seems to fit in with the “everyday landscape” (Betsky 350). With Dutch design, everything, especially the waterways, is planned to balance the use, the Dutch people, and the environment it is going. This is all done in an organized and calm manner to create a non obstructive building and building process. It gives the Dutch a sense of further identity and nationalism along with necessity in the form of waterways and buildings. I really enjoyed how Betsky introduced the reader to the idea of Dutch design and industry by taking the reader on a bike ride with him. This allowed the reader to get familiar with the topic before the topic was thoroughly explained. This allows the viewer to create their own idea of the Dutch city/village.
While I agree with Betsky/Eeuwens that Dutch design is good because of the care, organization, and imagination that goes into building, I disagree that the buildings do not draw a lot of attention. The buildings discussed in False Flat, while beautiful and intriguing to the eye, would stick out among the Dutch traditional buildings. There must be a balance between the old and the new. However, I am picturing most of The Netherlands to look similar to Amsterdam (which is false and wrong to do). When these buildings are in their location (most examples are in Rotterdam), the buildings do work together and blend well into a singular modern, Dutch skyline (see picture of Rotterdam below). On page 37, Betsky recognizes that not all architecture can be balanced and can work together; giving the example of Rotterdam having different areas of culture, use, and architecture.
Han Meyer’s article, “Composition and Construction of Dutch Delta Cities,” gave a back story and a foundation (literally) to what was said in False Flat. By explaining the history and struggle of the Dutch people to manipulate and work with the land in Holland/Zeeland/Flanders (eventually The Netherlands), the viewer can see why the Dutch rely so heavily on design and planning. Everything in Dutch design, especially in The Hague and Amsterdam, revolves around water and waterways.
After reading both Betsky/Eeuwen’s False Flat and Meyer’s “Composition and Construction on Dutch Delta Cities,” I am still left wondering about the mix of old and new cultural style and architecture. Having been to Amsterdam before, there is a lot of quiet historic areas. Most of the modern buildings, from what I can remember, are by the docks and around the main waterway through Amsterdam. I would like to research how the modern style of Dutch design was created in association with the traditional, historic buildings. Was this (recently) new design created with the traditional in mind? Were they meant to compliment each other or contradict, showing a riff in cultural styles and times? How does a city mix the old with the new in a way that it pleasing for tourists, residents, and future industry? This is what I will be focusing my paper on this week.
Amsterdam Canal, November 2014.
During our trip to Amsterdam, I am interesting in seeing the Schröder House, The Anne Frank House, and Amsterdam’s houseboat community. I am also interested in seeing how the old, traditional Dutch architecture style blends with the new modern and contemporary style we read about in False Flat. When I was there last I did not notice the new, and was drawn to the old, historic buildings along the canals. It will be interesting to see how they play off one another.