Architecture

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?


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-woZoco by MVRDVVirginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-woZoco by MVRDV-back© Virginia Duran

1. WoZoCo
Architect: MVRDV
Location:
 Ookmeerweg + Reimerswaaltstraat (Google)
Year1997
Description: This iconic building by MVRDV – the the first housing complex realised by the firm – fulfils 100 living units for elderly people. Its very powerful image is the result of urban policy: the architects couldn’t place all the flats 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 hung on the northern side, with an east-west orientation. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-NEMO by Renzo PianoVirginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-NEMO by Renzo Piano-rooftop© RPBW Architects

2. 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 façades, referencing the surrounding harbour areas. 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 neighbourhood. Don’t miss the beautiful skyline views from its rooftop. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-ARCAM-2Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-ARCAM-interior© Virginia Duran

3. ARCAM
Architect: René van Zuuk
Location:
Prins Hendrikkade 600 (Google)
Year: 2003
Description: This art gallery is a beautifully compact, sculptural structure arranged in three levels. 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 at the main entrance. Read more here.


© Raimond Wouda

4. The Edge
Architect: Aldo van Eyck
Location:
Gustav Mahlerlaan 2970 (Google)
Year: 2015
Description: Situated in the centre of Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district, The Edge is an office building with an impressive 15-storey atrium that claims to be the greenest building in the world. The atrium serves both as a social core and environmental buffer to reduce energy use. For the Edge, PLP devised spaces that produce a multiplicity of moods and atmospheres within the workplace. Read more here.


© Michel Porro

5. 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 religious services, it’s used as an exhibition space. During the Dutch Golden Age the Palace got built in 1665 as as a city hall and later became the Royal Palace of Amsterdam. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Anne Frank HuisVirginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Anne Frank Huis-interior© Anne Frank House

6. Anne Frank House
Architect: Dirk van Delft
Location:
Prinsengracht 263-267 (Google)
Year: 1635
Description: This house, originally a private residence, has had many uses throughout history (including a warehouse and stables). 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 with his family. 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.


© Jan de Vries

7. Strawinskylaan Bicycle Parking
Architect: wUrck
Location:
Pr. Irenestraat 45 (Google)
Year: 2018
Description: This house, originally a private residence, has had many uses throughout history (including a warehouse and stables). 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 with his family. 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 OrtizVirginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Rijksmuseum Cruz y Ortiz-detail© Pedro Pegenaute

8. Rijksmuseum Asian Pavilion
Architect: Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos
Location:
Museumstraat 1 (Google)
Year: 2013
Description: This magnificent building by Pierre Cuypers has been dedicated to arts and history since its completion in 1885. The newest addition – 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 1950’s and 1960’s. A two-part  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 Architects

© Benthem Crouwel Architekten

9. Stedelijk Museum
Architect: Benthem Crouwel Architekten
Location: 
Museumplein 10 (Google)
Year2012
Description: The existing building of the Stedelijk Museum was created in 1895 by the municipal architect A.W. Weismann. It is celebrated for its majestic staircase, grand rooms and natural lighting, which were the base points for the 2012 redesign by Benthem Crouwel Architects. The contrast of the new building versus the old building is obvious from the outside but 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 MVRDVPakhuis Silodam© MVRDV

10. Silodam
Architect: MVRDV
Location: 
Silodam (Google)
Year2002
Description: This new housing building is located next to two former grain warehouses (silos) that have been converted into housing. The 157 flats, business units and public spaces in the Housing Silo are compressed within a 10 storey high and 20 meters deep urban envelope. The apartments, rented and owned in different sizes, are stacked legibly on the façade as each of them is expressed differently. Tours are available from 3€ sending an email to info@silodam.org 2 weeks in advance. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-EYE Museum-Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-EYE Museum© Iwan Baan

11. 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: reality and fiction, illusion and real experience. The building concept becomes the story board, architecture and scenography. By delivering a dynamic interplay, the building’s assigned role oscillates between acting as the urban protagonist and as a dramaturgical element. Read more here.


© Benthem Crouwel Architekten

12. Centraal Station
Architect: Benthem Crouwel Architects
Location:
Stationsplein (Google)
Year2018
Description: This highly debated project (22 years of politics back and forth), was finally completed in 2018. Amsterdam’s new metro link connects the north to the south with a system of seven metro stations: two stations above ground and five stations underground, along a route that is almost 10 Km long. The task of engineering an underground metro 25 meters deep in the soggy soil of historic Amsterdam, built on long wooden stilts around 1300, was not an easy one. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-REM Eiland Rooftop

© Ewout Huibers

13. REM Eiland Rooftop
Architect: Concrete
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 an office building with a public restaurant on top. Having a drink 22 meters above the IJ with views of Amsterdam from Zuid to Noord is quite a thing. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Amsterdam Orphanage-Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Amsterdam Orphanage© CCA Mellon Lectures

14. Amsterdam Orphanage
Architect: Aldo van Eyck
Location:
IJsbaanpad 7 (Google)
Year1960
Description: This masterpiece by Aldo van Eyck was the architect’s first large scale built project. Completed in 1960 as an orphanage, the main feature of the complex is the distribution of negative and positive spaces. The units of program are laid out on an orthogonal grid projecting two diagonal paths so that each unit has multiple exterior facades. This effect creates an equal amount of negative spaces from the positives. Read more here.


© SeARCH

15. Summertime Housing
Architect: SeARCH
Location:
Gustav Mahlerlaan 635 (Google)
Year: 2016
Description: ‘Summertime’, built in 2016, consists of two pixelated residential towers. By stacking and shifting apartments as three-dimensional ‘Pixels’ SeARCH was able to maximize views, sunlight and privacy within a high-density urban environment. This clever offsetting of spaces stretches the relative distance between apartments, offers a large variety of outdoor space and increases the individual readability of the apartments. All while staying within the constraints of the urban plan. Read more here.


© MVRDV

16. Tennisclub IJburg
Architect: MVRDV
Location:
Zandzeggestraat 1 (Google)
Year: 2015
Description: This exciting public structure by MVRDV was built in 2015 as an extension to the tennis club, which currently has 10 clay courts and a tennis school. The aim of the club is to be as accessible as possible, meaning that it is accessible to the general public, free of charge and open 365 days a year. It’s not a private club, but more of a meeting place for young and old, where you can grab a coffee and a healthy snack, or meet with friends, or even just check your emails. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-The whale© de Architekten Cie.

17. 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.The traditional closed block has been transformed by lifting the two, so the public space flows through underneath. Thanks to its sculptural shape, this building by Frits van Dongen is a real landmark. The program includes 194 flats, office and retail space and inside the block there is a private garden designed by West 8. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Borneo© West 8

18. Borneo + Sporenburg Bridges
Architect: West 8
Location:
Panamakade 144 (Google)
Year2000
Description: The three bridges of Borneo and Sporenburg by West 8 play an essential role at creating a 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 by Enric Miralles. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Floating Houses in IJburgVirginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Floating Houses in IJburg-© Marcel van der Burg

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 houses in the private (rental and owner-occupied) sector were a challenge. The Netherlands has a history of living close to water and 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.


© Thijs Wolzak

20. Lex van Delden Bridge
Architect: Dok Architecten
Location:
De Boelgracht (Google)
Year2013
Description: The Lex van Delden Bridge, built in 2013, not only connects the Boelelaan with the Gershwinplein but more-over the city centre to the suburb. The bridge allows traffic to cross and at the same time it offers a stopping place, where one can comfortably sit down and have a good look around. Tables, chairs, and residents can enjoy a glass of wine in the evening sun. Read more here.


© Mecanoo

21. iPabo University of Applied Sciences
Architect: Mecanoo
Location:
Jan Tooropstraat 136 (Google)
Year2016
Description: iPabo University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam trains students to become teachers in primary education. Mecanoo designed the comprehensive building overhaul and extension needed for the substantial increase of students expected in the coming years. The existing iPabo building’s core dates from the 1960s. Mecanoo worked to realise inspirational, transparent environments where there is space to meet in a building that is part renovation, part new build. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Sarphatistraat Offices-Virginia Duran Blog-Amazing architecture Amsterdam-Sarphatistraat Offices© Steven Holl Architects

22. 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 on the 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.


© Jannes Linders

23. RAI Car Park
Architect: Benthem Crouwel Architects
Location:
Europaplein 24 (Google)
Year: 2013
Description: Amsterdam’s Exhibition and Convention Centre has a new, multifunctional car park. The building is 30 metres high and its eight floors offer parking space for about 1.000 cars. What makes the building remarkable is the fact that the first floor is not just for parking cars, but can also be used as a flexible space for conventions and exhibitions. When the RAI does not need the car park, the building can function as a public parking space. Read more here.


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

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

    • Haven’t been to Frankfurt but just checked it and the concept looks the same! I must confess this is the building I like less of the list hehe Which is your favorite?

      Like

  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.

    Like

    • Hello James! How are you Mr. Traveler? Thanks for your kind words, it makes me happy to read that my recommendations are useful to you. In London, don’t miss the new Serpentine Pavilion if you haven’t visited it yet! In Paris don’t miss Le Ptit Grec, best crêpes in town 🙂 When were you going by the way?

      Liked by 1 person

  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

    Like

    • 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

    Like

    • Hello Melissa, glad to read that you enjoyed this list! I loved it there when I visited, weather helped aswell (it was summer). Are you planning to visit it soon?

      Like

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