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Amsterdam Arichtecture and Street Art.

Hannah Titman explores street art and architecture through a photo essay of Amsterdam; inspired by a Media Geographies field trip.

BY Hannah Titman

“Amsterdam, a city of history, geography, culture, tourism and a wealth of architecture has, in some respects, become a global city.”

For my Neutral article this year, I have chosen to write about the city of Amsterdam that I visited on the annual Media Geographies trip in the form of a photo essay with annotations where relevant. Amsterdam, a city of history, geography, culture, tourism and a wealth of architecture has, in some respects, become a global city. This article will focus on the street art and architectural works of Amsterdam. The exterior of the Centraal Station alone is of particular magnificence with archways and the stone detailing above the entrance can be contrasted with the modern interior of glass and retail outlets.

The various graffiti art around Amsterdam, political, historical and economic, showcase the various opinions of the people of Amsterdam. The artwork of the image of Anne Frank with the words “Let me be myself” was particularly interest for obvious reasons. What was curious to note was how this piece of work was on the back of an abandoned building on a small industrial estate. 

The residential area of Jordaan is worth exploring, the artwork and architectural designs in this part of the city is possibly the most famous neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. Within this residential area is the Anne Frank Huis and the Homo-monument, a homage to all of the homosexual people that have lost their lives because of their sexuality. 

Whilst in the city we chose to look at the various pieces of art work, and their relevant themes as mentioned above. We took a wide range of pictures, one that caught my eye was a statement that said “make art, not €”. Not only did this have political implications but it also had artistic connotations because the city holds the Van Gogh museum, where the majority of his works are held which is visited by over one million tourists each year. 

Other architectural magnificence’s that we visited on the trip included the Media eye museum which showed films to tourists and locals. Thinking about the effort that went into building such a magnificent structure was breath taking and took a while for me to register. The wooden floors can be heavily contrasted with the white washed walls. In some respects, it reminded me of the Sage on the Quayside in Newcastle. From the outside, the building looked relatively small however, having entered the building it used the space well and the ‘one room’ concept was well established, as does The Sage. No doors were present inside the building itself, the space was purely continuous which allowed the visitor to flow through the museum and have a 360o view of the outskirts of the city and the riverbank.

“The concept behind the theatre was that everyone in Amsterdam should be able to attend the cinema, no matter what their social class was.”

Another architectural piece of magnificence that we visited was the theatre Tuschinski in the city centre, built during the 1920s. The concept behind the theatre was that everyone in Amsterdam should be able to attend the cinema, no matter what their social class was. While in the cinema we were shown a picture commemorating an anniversary of the theatre. In the picture it is clear to see that the audience are in their best dressed clothes. It can be suggested that today the experience of going to the cinema has changed dramatically as many people choose to go wearing casual clothes on a Sunday afternoon. Looking at the typical 1920s exterior to the art deco building that rose to popularity in America and in the UK, it is clear to see that this aesthetic was transported and spread to the Netherlands and rests in the Theatre Tuschinki. Unfortunately, there were no other theatres of buildings of interest like this, which for me, was a shame because the building itself had masses of history behind it and similar buildings like this one should be celebrated for what they bought to the city and the Dutch people.

Whilst walking around this great city, it was hard not to notice the amount of chain store businesses that we noticed-Primark, McDonalds and H&M were some of the popular ones. While walking through a street in the city, we saw the Primark sign in the distance. We headed towards the sign whilst taking in the architectural delights that the street exposed leading to the store. When we arrived, we saw that on the left-hand side was a tunnel lit with chandeliers and mosaic tiles arranged in delicate patterns. Down each side of the long tunnel were boutique shops and cafes. We were inspired by this obscure and random piece of architecture, as we subconsciously wondered how much Primark paid for the upkeep of such a magnificent building.

Amsterdam encompasses a variety of features from being a city of history, geography, culture, tourism and a wealth of street art and architecture. The international links that the city has around the world pull the small yet important space into a global city. This article has focused on a variety of street art and architectural works from the exterior of buildings to innocent tunnels that exhibit mosaic tiles and various pieces of street art that showcase the political and economic opinions of the people of Amsterdam.

I hope to return to Amsterdam soon and soak up more of this wonderful and cultural European city.