The Contagious Utilization of Space in Holland

Perspective Engraving, Hans Vredeman de Vires, 1604, 22.8 × 22.8 cm

Claire Foley

Essay 1

July 22, 2019 (extension)

Through the eyes of Winner, Brusati, Betsky the way in which the city of Amsterdam considered the space available to them with a strategic eye was contagious and has continued to be shared in other fields of Amsterdams city today. Winner argues that the Dutch soccer team of the 1990s visualized space as their “unique defining element” (44) in a similar way to which the city of Amsterdam utilized the space that they had to create city that has beautifully enhanced modern architecture. Brusati believes that the way in which artists of the 17th Century utilized space to develop different perspectives within their art works was a tangent idea from the way in which the architects of the time period were looking at the minimal space that Amsterdam had due to surrounding water. Betsky states that “fighting the sea demanded an organization that led to the founding of heemraadschappen, groups of farmers united to regulate the process of keeping the water at bay” (12). Betsky claims that the farms during the time in which the city was built and today have to think of space wisely and not take it for granted nut like the city. Of Amsterdam is made up architecturally.

As Winner claims that the Dutch soccer team sought to find space and take space whenever available. The Dutch soccer team had a system where they attacked the halfway line instead of the protecting their goal which resulted in less running and resulted in, typically, two goals in the first five minutes. Winner also claims just like the Dutch soccer team is concerned about space, so has Holland since WWII. He claims that the Dutch have put their faith in a series of National plans known as the National Spatial Planing Acts (in English). These are blueprints concerning the use of space that are to be followed by “every local and municipal authority in the Netherlands” (49). Winner ends the article and his point by drawing back to Dutch’s soccer team in its height in 1995 and the photographer, Van der Meer, who captured their great use of space. He also concludes that the Dutch landscape as Van der Meer saw it was too precise and mathematical about space.  Winner highlights how der Meer believed that the Dutch landscape from the air is so straight and precisely laid out as if it is a posting of Mondrian. 

Betsky uses the route that he takes to his office from his home as he sees it as platform of how he explains the Netherlands to be laid out. He also focuses on the history of Holland first and uses that to explain how the Netherlands was created and became successful. He explains how they first had to fight “back the sea and the rivers to make land” (12), because this area once was a swamp. He claims after the construction of the city was completed the focus was shifted to political matters and trading their agriculture. This focus of trade and agriculture resulted in great wealth for the Netherlands. Unfortunately, their struggles were not over because they are located at the end of a river and must “accept the current and winds that flowed over the land from elsewhere” (16). This resulted in great loss of power and wealth that they had gained. He explains that the Dutch managed to fight their way back because the public cared and the government took initiative in the 1990s. Rem Koolhas founded the Office for Metropolitan Architecture and was integral part in the cites great architectural landscape of today exclaims Betsky.

Winner, Betsky and Meyer all see that space was a valued and focused area of the Dutch landscape, and the way it was constructed from the start. Betsky and Meyer take a more academic approach than Winner. They explain the history of the Netherlands and its struggles and successes of a landscape through that. Meyer is the most traditional of the three and does not really stray at all from the sole focus of Holland’s landscape and history. Betsky strays a little and explains some of Dutch’s landscape through his eyes and through his route to work from his home. Winner strays the most from traditional and typical academic writing. He uses a fun and interesting turn on explaining how Holland used space in strict and great way architecturally just like their soccer team did in the 1990s at their height. These different approaches work well together despite their difference in approach, because they all see the significance in how the Netherlands utilized space and worked around the land’s difficulties of the surrounding water.

Works Cited

Betsky, Aaron., and Eeuwens, Adam. False Flat : Why Dutch Design Is so Good . Phaidon, 2004.

Brusati, Celeste. “Perspectives in Flux: Viewing Dutch Pictures in Real Time.” Art History, vol. 35, no. 5, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Nov. 2012, pp. 908–33, doi:10.1111/j. 1467-8365.2012.00930.x.

“Football – Dutch capped.(Brief Article).” The Economist (US), vol. 355, no. 8176, Economist Newspaper Ltd., June 2000.

Grootenboer, Hanneke. “How to Become a Picture: Theatricality as Strategy in Seventeenth- Century Dutch Portraits.” Art History, vol. 33, Blackwell Publishers Ltd., Apr. 2010. 


2 thoughts on “The Contagious Utilization of Space in Holland

  1. Sounds great! (And I thought so as I read; just emailed comments–there’s a really insightful core idea here that you can really develop!)


  2. I am going to revise this essay before the end of the class for a replacement grade option that is available. I am in Prague right now, and I was just in Venice. Unfortunately, I have had non stop guided art tours for the Venice Biennale and other galleries in Venice. I have now begun my art tours in Prague and will remain up to date with while I am there. I cannot wait for my the class in Amsterdam and to share my journey with all of you!


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