Hidden Gems

I took a quick walk today to see a couple of Reitveld store fronts here in the city center. That post will come later, but for now, I’ll mention a few other buildings I saw today. I was back behind the Stadhuis (City Hall), which has a lovely variety of buildings, ranging from modern (as seen in the next photo) and very old (as seen in the photo above).
I stopped to look at the buildings, including the one with the date Anno 1584, because of this little corner.
Fenced In
It’s a decorative and old-looking corner, with the beautiful iron gate topped with gold tips. The building the gate protects is a lovely brick building. Simple, but with great little rooftop details.
Hidden Corners
The fall of changing color leaves on the bush/tree in the front adds to the sfeer (atmostphere). The basket-weave pattern of the brick over the windows is also a nice touch.
As for the old building, here’s a larger view of it, standing next to the little gated corner. The little turret on the side is eye-catching, as well.
Old and New

Location, Location, Location

I’ve been meaning to write about this house for a few weeks now, but the spirit just hasn’t moved me. I think my writing muse is hibernating. I’m not sure she’s awake now, either, but since I’ve been writing up stuff for Trippist today, I figure I’ll just keep going and finally get this piece written so I can close out a few tabs!

The house seen here at dusk last spring (so 9 or 10 p.m.) is located on Kromme Nieuwegracht, just off the Janskerkhof by the Drift canal. It’s a fairly new structure (obviously), having been built in 2002, by the architectural firm Sluijmer en Van Leeuwen. They have a reputation for building modern, eye-catching structures, such as restaurant Divinatio here in Utrecht. The house is currently for sale, and can be yours if you’ve got €629,000 to spare on 150 square meters. It’s got some small rooms, but it does have two bathrooms, which makes me slightly envious. (Although the bathrooms may be as small as ours, so they may not be that enviable.) Ultimately, of course, what you’re paying for is bragging rights and the all-important location.

The house is known as the smallest modern house in Utrecht; not to be confused with the smallest house in Utrecht, which is quite a bit older. On the surface, it does seem quite small. What you see is what you get, in terms of the above ground living area. However, the house has hidden square footage. There’s an underground level that runs under the street, directly over to the canal, with a view onto the canal itself. The house is an interesting mixture of modernism and cave dwelling. Chrome and glass up above and brick down below.

It’s interesting to compare the photos from when the house was first built (and featured on the architect’s website) and the photos from the current real estate website. A few changes along the way; perhaps not quite as chic and sleek as it used to be, at least in terms of decorating. Life invariable intrudes. Even our own modern yellow sofa isn’t quite as sharp as it was when we bought it, but that probably has something to do with the sharpness of our cats’ claws.

Despite the small size of the house, the inclusion of the larger living area does make it seem much more livable, at least for a childless/free couple. The house certainly has a wonderful views from the kitchen and upper deck level: the Domtoren, Janskerk, St. Willibrord, the Drift canal …

And hey, on those nights you don’t feel like cooking, you’re just a few steps away from one of the Irish pubs in town. Fish and chips! I told you it’s all about location.

Street Style

A couple of Sundays ago, Pippo and I headed out for a walk to get some photos of the posters and setups that were going up for the Nederlands Film Festival. I figured a quiet Sunday was a good day to take a big dog out into the city center while still being able to get some decent photos without him tugging my arm at the wrong moment. After getting the shots I wanted, we started to head back home, but we took a route different to what I usually take. There’s a lovely little street that I’ve passed numerous times, sometimes almost daily, yet I’ve never walked down the street itself. It’s called Jansveld and it turned out to be a fascinating short architectural walk.

This older building on the left (also seen in the first photo) is known as De margarethenhof and dates back in some part to the 1300s, when a structure went up in this location to serve as a hospital. Later it became an almshouse in 1562. I think the building is a series of private apartments now and there’s a courtyard area, as well. I’m not sure how much of the structure dates back to its original foundation, but regardless, there has been a structure here since at least 1371. I found some information here, but it’s in Dutch, so the translation got a bit confusing.

To the right of it, you can see a tall narrow house with an unusual roofline, almost like the bow of a ship pointing skyward. It seems to have been wedged in between existing buildings. I don’t know if it was built in 2002 (the date mentioned on the front of the building), but I figure the major renovation was at least done then.

Further down the street is another fascinating older structure. I think this one might be the Grote Vleeshal, or the Great Big Meat Hall, as I like to call it. Based on the name, I’m guessing it was a meat market originally. From what I’ve been able to find out, it was a children’s library for many years in the 1900s, up until 1974. I’m not really sure what it is now. It has a great bull’s head (which fits with the Vleeshal name) over the entrance.

As the street progresses toward Voorstraat, some of the buildings become more modern in appearance. This next building caught my attention because of it’s simple, clean white lines — rather Bauhausian — which are juxtaposed against the older, more traditional stepped rooftop rising up behind it. I think this image describes this street perfectly. Old and new blending together surprisingly well.

At the end of the street, where Jansveld runs into Voorstraat, there’s a large, simple brick building with some modern elements to it. At ground level, it seems fairly straight forward, with a few hints of more modern design.

But when you look more closely — or simply look up — you see this fantastic series of circular windows rising up to the top of the building, breaking up the expanse of plain brick.

I hope you enjoyed this little photographic tour down a relatively short street. As I walked along it, starting at Lange Jansstraat, it was almost like walking through history, getting progressively more modern and recent. It’s interesting to think about the changes and evolution of this one street, starting back in the 1300s through to today.