Joppe Schaaper Reflection – JN

Joppe talks about how Amsterdam’s history is interwoven within the city and it’s design. While he gave background to the polders and the necessity of dams, the historic political influence played a large part in the formation and transformation of the city, along with the church and religious freedom. From the origins of catholicism to the protestant reformation, the Dutch rebellion against the Spanish government and resulting ‘Dutch Republic,’ to religious tolerance and economic affluence during the “Golden Age,” Joppe shows how cultural history grew the city’s design––not just geographic/environmental features and operational necessity.

These huge socio-cultural changes impacted the city, not just in government and politics, but also style and design. A new religion meant new stylised architectural design. For example, the catholic church was mapped out in the shape of a crucifix cross, while the protestant churches were built in the shape of the Greek cross (like a plus sign). As Joppe notes, this shift meant not only an architectural difference, but was operationally intentional––like the placement of the pulpit––within religious traditions. So while the previous readings considered more of the geographic and economic aspects, Joppe attributes much of the city’s social and cultural history to the design of the city. How a change in time and culture meant an evolution of architecture: from the catholic church, to the golden age, to Dutch classicism of the City Hall.  

Part 1 &2 Questions + more comments:

How did the City Hall come to represent an institution “even higher,” or greater, than the church? Was it a slow transition to religious freedom that paralleled the rise of Dutch Classicism, or was it a stark shift within the nation? It’s crazy to see how such an (initially) devout catholic nation, came to the point of acceptance and appraisal of wealth over religion. 

Was the construction and design of the City Hall, in the 17th century, the first instance of secular, instead of religious, authority as displayed culturally in the design (Dutch Classicism) of the city? 

Part 3 & 4 Questions:

Was the Netherlands’ neo-style of design, during industrialisation, (directly) influenced by other European architecture around the same time––such as England’s Gothic Revival?

If tourism is such a significant support of income for Amsterdam, how come the city council wanted to backlash the tourism––despite for local comfort––by removing the ‘I am-sterdam’ sign?


2 thoughts on “Joppe Schaaper Reflection – JN

  1. Hi there,
    I think it is very important how you touched upon the social, economic, and political influences of architecture and city design as it is played such a large role in shaping the city besides the environmental features. Moreover, how you touched on the socio-cultural impacts of the Netherlands was particularly important as that stood out to me too — i.e the fascinating and notable difference between the catholic and protestant design.


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