Peter – Amsterdam Architectural History

In his mini-lecture, Schapper talks about the development of Amsterdam and how the city expanded over time. He talks about one expansion which led to the development of three new canals – the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, and Herengracht – and a residential neighborhood, the Jordaan. He mentions that the three canals were dug “mainly for transportation reasons.”

However, the Feddes reading expands on Schapper’s quick aside on the Jordaan and Third Expansion. Feddes mentions how the way in which different canals was the result of economic differences. For three large canals – the Prisengracht, Keizersgracht, and Herengracht – city planners “opted for an expensive approach in which the existing polder parcellation was erased and replaced by a different, and more attractive course for the canals.” The canals characterizing the Jordaan that essentially ran perpendicular to the three main canals, however, were “the outcome of a less expensive approach, which left the parcellation and footpaths in place as the basis for the street pattern.” To make the entire Third Expansion financially feasible, city planners needed to balance aesthetic and transportation needs with financial needs. The Jordaan and its unique canals made the Third Expansion possible.

Feddes’s expansion on Schapper’s point speaks to Amsterdam’s “informal urbanization” and the fact that the city was not comprehensively planned.


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