Curiosities

23 Spots You Shouldn’t Miss in Amsterdam If You Love Architecture

Are you planning to visit Amsterdam soon? If so, continue reading.

Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Its origins lie in the 12th century, when fishermen living along the banks of the River Amstel built a bridge across the waterway near the IJ, then a large saltwater inlet. Most of the city’s territory is below sea level and therefore it lies on land that has been reclaimed from the water.

Amsterdam is all about practical urban planning, amazing cycling infrastructure, tulip-lined canal bridges and old merchant houses tilt at impossible angles. I visited Amsterdam for the first time this year and fell in love with it on day one.

This is a selection of my favorite architecture pieces in the city. Which are yours?


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Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-woZoco by MVRDVVirginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-woZoco by MVRDV-back1. WoZoCo
Architect: MVRDV
Location:
 Ookmeerweg + Reimerswaaltstraat (Google)
Year1997
Description: This building was the first housing complex realized by MVRDV. WoZoCo’s Apartments for Elderly People open up 100 living units in an area. Its very powerful image is the result of urban policy: the architects couldn’t place all the 100 apartments in a linear building, because there was a height restriction. Thus the overhang volumes: all the apartments that couldn’t fit into the linear volume where hang on the northern side, with a east-west orientation. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-NEMO by Renzo Piano Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-NEMO by Renzo Piano-rooftop2. Science Center NEMO
Architect: Renzo Piano
Location:
Oosterdok 2 (Google)
Year1997
Description: Surrounded by water, this science and technology museum has a ship-like form and pre-oxidized copper-clad facades, referencing the surrounding port. A pedestrian ramp leads up onto the building’s sloping roof that serves as a public piazza for visitors and as a social focus for the neighborhood. Great skyline views from here from Tue-Sun (10-17.30). Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-ARCAM-2Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-ARCAM-interior3. ARCAM
Architect: René van Zuuk
Location:
Prins Hendrikkade 600 (Google)
Year: 2003
Description: This art gallery is a compact, sculptural building existing of three layers which are connected by vides. The building is covered in coated aluminum that flows from bottom to roof and over, all around the building on opposite sides. A special feature is the sculptural glass facade around entrance at the city-side. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Hubertus House by van EyckVirginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Hubertus House by van Eyck-interior4. Hubertus House
Architect: Aldo van Eyck
Location:
Plantage Middenlaan 33-35 (Google)
Year: 1957
Description: The 6-storey Hubertus House cannot be viewed in isolation, although its social success is clearly a result of the way its particular design was carried out. It is concerned with the spirit and the establishment of a comfortable scale for the building of this type and size—an open ‘home’ for single parents and their children. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Dam Square5. Koninklijk Paleis + Nieuwe Kerk + Dam Square
Architect: Daniël Stalpaert, 
Location:
 Plantage Middenlaan 33-35 (Google)
Year: 13th Century
Description: This is without doubt the most iconic spot in Amsterdam and a popular spot among locals. Dam square got built in approximately 1270, and formed the first connection between the settlements on the sides of the river. In 1450 Nieuwe Kerk was built as a church. Although is no longer used for church services, it’s used as an exhibition space. During the Dutch Golden Age the Palace got built (1665) as as a city hall and now is the Royal Palace of Amsterdam. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Begijnhof Courtyard6. Begijnhof Courtyard
Architect: 
Location:
Begijnhof 30 (Google)
Year13th Century
Description: One of the most amazing places in Amsterdam is the Begijnhof. It was built around 1390 and is the oldest inner court in Amsterdam. It is surrounded by historical medieval buildings. The fact that it’s so quiet and peaceful adds to the experience. The entrance is located right to the bookstore. Check schedule because it closes early. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Anne Frank Huis Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Anne Frank Huis-interior7. Anne Frank House
Architect: Dirk van Delft
Location:
Prinsengracht 263-267 (Google)
Year: 1635
Description: It was originally a private residence, then a warehouse, and in the nineteenth century, the front warehouse with its wide stable-like doors was used to house horses. At the start of the 20th century a manufacturer of household appliances occupied the building, succeeded in 1930 by a producer of piano rolls, who vacated the property by 1939. On 1 December 1940 Anne’s father Otto Frank moved here. The Secret Annex is the rear extension of the building. They remained hidden here for two years and one month until they were anonymously betrayed to the Nazi authorities, arrested, and deported to their deaths in concentration camps. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Rijksmuseum Cruz y Ortiz Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Rijksmuseum Cruz y Ortiz-detail8. Rijksmuseum Asian Pavilion
Architect: Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos
Location:
Museumstraat 1 (Google)
Year: 2013
Description: Built in 1885 by Pierre Cuypers as a museum dedicated to arts and history. The Asian pavilion was designed by Cruz y Ortiz and opened in 2013. The museum’s two inner courtyards have now been opened up, with the removal of galleries that were added in the 1950s and 1960s. A two-part, 2,250 square-metre Atrium has been created by sinking the floor of the two courtyards below ground level and connecting them via an underground zone beneath the original passageway through the building. Notable paintings include The Milkmaid (1657) by Vermeer. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog- Amazing Museums- Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam : Benthem Crouwel Architects-interior Virginia Duran Blog- Amazing Museums- Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam : Benthem Crouwel Architects9. Stedelijk Museum
Architect: Benthem Crouwel Architekten
Location: 
Museumplein 10 (Google)
Year2012
Description: The existing building of the Stedelijk Museum created in 1895 by the municipal architect A.W. Weismann, is celebrated for its majestic staircase, grand rooms and natural lighting. These strong points have been retained in the design by Benthem Crouwel Architects along with the color white. The contrast of the new building versus the old building is obvious from the outside; inside the museum you hardly notice strolling from the new building into the old. The museum’s collection includes modern art, contemporary art, and design. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Silodam MVRDV Pakhuis Silodam10. Silodam
Architect: MVRDV
Location: 
Silodam (Google)
Year2002
Description: Built in 2002 as a housing building. Located next to two former grain warehouses (silos) that have been converted into housing. The 157 apartments, business units and public spaces in the Housing Silo are compressed within a 10 storey high and 20 meters deep urban envelope. The apartments, rental and owner in different sizes, are stacked, legible on the façade, each of which is expressed differently. Tours are available from 3€ sending an email to silodam.org 2 weeks in advance. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-EYE Museum-Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-EYE Museum11. Amsterdam Eye Museum
Architect: Delugan Meissl Associated Architects
Location:
 IJpromenade 1 (Google)
Year2012
Description: Both the Eye Film Institute’s concept and urban implementation are based on an overlay of two creative disciplines which have at their core reality and fiction, illusion and real experience. The building concept becomes the story board, the architecture the scenography. By delivering a dynamic interplay, the building’s assigned role oscillates between acting as the urban scenery’s protagonist and as a dramaturgical element placed in front of a heterogeneous landscape setting. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-qubic by hvdn architecten Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-qubic by hvdn architecten-interior12. Qubic
Architect: Delugan Meissl Associated Architects
Location:
Stavangerweg 50 – 877 (Google)
Year2004
Description: Built in 2004 as a student residence designed by the own students. The architects made a prefabricated system out of containers of 9 by 3 meters. This system made the houses’ construction rapid, re-usable and costs were kept to a minimum. Six different façades with six different colours where chosen to make several changing combinations. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-REM Eiland Rooftop

13. REM Eiland Rooftop
Architect: ?
Location:
Haparandadam 45 (Google)
Year: 1964
Description: REM Island was a platform built in Ireland and towed off the Dutch coast in 1964 as the pirate broadcasting home of Radio and TV Noordzee. Both stations were dismantled by armed forces of the Netherlands and in 2004 it became a restaurant. Have a drink 22 meters above the IJ with views of Amsterdam from Zuid to Noord. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Amsterdam Orphanage-Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Amsterdam Orphanage14. Amsterdam Orphanage
Architect: Aldo van Eyck
Location:
IJsbaanpad 7 (Google)
Year1960
Description: Built in 1960 as an orphanage. Within the Orphanage, units of program are laid out on an orthogonal grid. The units project off two diagonal paths so that each unit has multiple exterior facades. By projecting off of a diagonal within the grid, van Eyck creates an equal amount of negative spaces from the positives he’s formed. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-IJ Tower15. iJ Tower
Architect: Neutelings & Riedijk
Location:
 1019 dn, Oostelijke Handelskade 1213 (Google)
Year1998
Description: Built in 1998 as a residential tower. The tower has 68 apartments in total, which are grouped to 4 per plant; around a central core. Setbacks of the building have two effects: Aesthetically give the tower a great character and monumental sculptures, and also ensure that all plants are different. It has 20 varieties of housing in total. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Piet Hein Tunnel Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Piet Hein Tunnel-16. Piet Hein Tunnel Building
Architect: UN Studio
Location:
Oosterdok and Zeeburg (Google)
Year1997
Description: Built in 1997 as a tunnel and building. This project consists mainly of two small service buildings. These technical constructions each have a concrete core, enveloped by an asymmetrical skin of perforated steel plates and titlted roof planes. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-The whale-Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-The whale17. The Whale
Architect: de Architekten Cie.
Location:
Baron G. A. Tindalplein 1 (Google)
Year: 2000
Description: The Whale is one of three big “meteorites” which have landed in-between the lowrise row houses on the Islands of Borneo and Sporenburg. Thanks to its sculptural shape, this building by Frits van Dongen is a real landmark. Inside are 194 apartments, office and retail space. The traditional closed block  has been transformed by lifting the two, so the public space flows through underneath. Inside the block there is a private garden, designed by West 8. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Borneo18. Borneo + Sporenburg Bridges
Architect: West 8
Location:
Panamakade 144 (Google)
Year2000
Description: The three bridges of Borneo/Sporenburg by West 8 play an essential role at the creation of the unique atmosphere in the harbour-residential area. Two of the bridges, one on the West side and the other on the East side, span the 93-meter wide water of the Railroad basin and connect the islands of Borneo and Sporenburg. Don’t miss the beautiful houses around the area such as Six Dwellings in Borneo Eland by Eric Miralles. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Floating Houses in IJburg Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Floating Houses in IJburg-19. Floating Houses in IJburg
Architect: Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer
Location:
Haringbuisdijk 2 (Google)
Year2010
Description: Building on water is another story altogether. Seventy-five floating homes and waterside dyke houses in the private (rental and owner-occupied) sector. The Netherlands has a history of living close to water and of coping with its caprices. That means living on land protected by dykes, on mounds, on shore or floating. Only recently have floating homes been eligible as a significant solution to Holland’s modern housing needs. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-ING House Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-ING House-20. ING House
Architect: Van Schooten Architecten
Location:
Amstelveenseweg 500 (Google)
Year2002
Description: Built in 2002 as the ING group headquarters. A streamlined shape in anodized aluminum and glass, ING House is constructed like a table on sixteen steel legs. They stand freely on pins in large concrete blocks in the ground, a technique used in bridge building. On top of this table, the floors were built. The belly of the building on the second floor thus rises to the level of the highway. Ground level is below the highway. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-A-FACTORIJ21. A-FACTORIJ
Architect: Neutelings & Riedijk
Location:
Pilotenstraat 12-41 (Google)
Year2002
Description: A former bike factory has been refurbished and extended to house offices and business units. Four patios slip between the six rows with tall shed roofs of the original factory. Dividing walls have been kept to a minimum in the factory hall. The extra office space required is housed in three towers and an L-shaped block terminating the original factory complex. Thick masonry detailing gives the towers an impression of great mass and solidity. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Sarphatistraat Offices-Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Sarphatistraat Offices22. Sarphatistraat Offices
Architect: Steven Holl Architects
Location:
410 Sarphatistraat (Singel Canal) (Google)
Year: 1997
Description: This renovated building is the former federal warehouse of medical supplies. In 1997 it was turned into a new office space. The main structure is a four-storybrick “U” merging internally with a new “sponge” pavilion ont he canal. While the exterior expression is one of complementary contrast (existing brick adjacent to new perforated copper), the interior strategy is one fusion. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Watervilla Omval23. Water Villa Omval
Architect: +31 Architects
Location:
 Omval 4 (Google)
Year1997
Description: Built in 2010 as a floating house. The Watervilla de Omval has a kitchen and living space level with the water, with cabins below the water line reached via a split level that houses the bathroom. Lowering the bedroom half a story, allows for a logical transition not only to the above terrace by also to below for access from the ground floor to the basement. A large void brings daylight into the basement and allows provides a visual connection betweent he floors. Read more here.


This list could keep going forever, so if you want more amazing architecture check these and other amazing buildings of Amsterdam on the map below or download The Free Architecture Guide of Amsterdam (PDF)

27 thoughts on “23 Spots You Shouldn’t Miss in Amsterdam If You Love Architecture

  1. Hi Virginia… This is wonderful. I always look forward to your posts. Amsterdam is on my list of places to go. Next up for me is London and Paris (for which I’m taking your guide with me!).
    James.

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  2. Hello Virginia, I am constantly impressed by hoe involved you are on your blogs comment roll – I commend you on this!
    I had started developing the material for an architecture travel app earlier in the year… Unfortunately I put the concept on ice after going through my second round of ‘ideal customer’ interviews… Only after this did one of my friends send me a link to your site – I see you have been through similar aspirations, anyway I hope you are getting some joy out of sharing your travels. And if you hit the shores of Australia (Sydney) let me know I would be more than happy to be your local guide.
    Regards, Jos

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    • Hello Jos,

      Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog and leave a comment. There’s a big problem within traveling apps and that is the competition. Simply too much. However, that can be a good thing if one knows which niche market to target. I am focusing on architects and designers because being an architect myself, I find it easier. Besides building the app, I am developing my first paper guide because it seems the market is more used to it. So far, so good. Would love to know more about your experience and your opinion on the subject. Why did you stop? I haven’t been to Australia yet but 2016 looks like the right time to visit🙂

      If you prefer, shoot me an email at virginia.duran89@gmail.com

      Like

  3. What a wealth of amazing architecture! Thanks so much for compiling this amazing list of buildings. Can’t wait to visit! Best, Melissa

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  4. Pingback: The Free Architecture Guide of Amsterdam (PDF) | Virginia Duran Blog

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