Thursday, August 18, 2005

Not just a pretty port

I went to Netherlands last October (as well as England, and, briefly, Paris). There's no special reason for the timing of these posts, it's just belated storytelling.

Rotterdam has some wacky architecture. Really cool stuff. Little unexpected things jump out at you, like this reasonably average looking building with a stake through it.

Rotterdam was very different from the other places I saw in the Netherlands, like Amsterdam, Leiden, briefly Den Hague. I think this is largely because it was bombed out in WWII and only has a few small areas of old buildings left. This left space for the development of some very interesting modern architecure.
I believe the city is also on more solid ground than many parts of the country, including the older bits of Amsterdam where the buildings perch on poles in shifting sand, and gradually tilt. In the picture to the right, notice the slant of the building in the middle of the three? (click for bigger picture)

The Nedlloyd Building below is the site of an incredible Jackie Chan stunt in the movie Who am I – after a fight on the rooftop, he slides all the way down the angled window surface. I was staying in the Netherlands with a couple of keen Jackie Chan fans, so this was one of the must-see sites in Rotterdam.

I was also keen to see the Cube houses, having heard all about them from a few friends who had been there before me. Each cube sitting on its point is one apartment. One of the owners has made his into a tourist attraction and for a dollar or so each we went inside to experience the weirdest shaped rooms you're ever likely to see. Most of the furniture has to be custom made.

The Blaaktower I thought of as the ‘rocket ship’ but in fact it is known as the ‘Potlood’, which is Dutch for pencil. It's the apartment building to the left of this picture (in case it doesn't look like a rocket to you).

I also picked up these funky postcards you can cut up and build into models of the cube houses and the potlood.

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