Weekly Photo Challenge: Possibility

I had various ideas going through my head when I saw the topic for this week’s photo challenge, with none really feeling right. Then, on Saturday, in between Occupying Utrecht and drinking lots of lekker bock beer, I stopped in at the main post office at Neude to take some photos and realized I had a perfect topic.

You see, at the end of the month, all of the post offices in the Netherlands seem to be closing for good, including the stunning central post office here in Utrecht. All postal services will be taken care at other shops, such as certain book stores, grocery stores, etc. It’s sad for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the number of people now out of a job. Additionally, seeing the closing of this stunning building, built in the Amsterdam School style between 1917 and 1921, breaks my heart.

Fortunately, they’re not tearing it down; just repurposing it. That’s where the possibility lies. I think they’re going to turn it into some sort of shopping site, although I’m not positive. I think I’ve read various things over the past year. Regardless, I hope that they maintain some of the beautiful architectural and decorative details. It would be a shame to see this stunning interior get lost in the shuffle. The warm golden glazed bricks, the soaring glass ceiling, and the beautiful carved figurines throughout add a sense of wonder and amazement to a building that has been known to take the breath away from first-time visitors.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting more detail shots of the building, including the carved figures that represent the different continents of the world. Oh, and lots of olifanten (elephants)! No wonder I love this building so much!



Different Donderdag: Going Postal

If you ever find yourself in the Netherlands with snail mail to post, look for one of these red boxes. This is the Dutch version of a mail box. One side will be for a specific postal code, i.e., local mail, and the other side is for everything else. These two boxes are located outside of the main post office here in Utrecht at the Neude, but you’ll find one of these boxes at random places around town. To be honest, it took me about a year to actually pay attention to them and realize what they were. Usually if I mail something, I need to go through the post office, so despite their vivid red color, I tended to be a bit oblivious to their purpose. After all, they do look quite a bit different from what I used to think of when I thought of public mail boxes. As for stamps (zegel), you can buy those at the post office, or more commonly, you can buy them at the grocery store and some other newsagent shops. During the month of December, they sell reduced-price stamps (decemberzegel) that can be used for standard mail for that month. TNT Post is the name of the royal Dutch postal service, so if you see TNT, don’t think dynamite; think mail.

Of course, when you’ve got a postkantoor (post office) like the one we have in Utrecht, why wouldn’t you want to visit it whenever possible! It’s an architectural dream! Look!
The soaring barrel-vault ceiling is truly awe inspiring and beautiful with the glass in between the ribs. It allows some of the natural light to come into the building, assisted with smaller, unobtrusive electrical lights.
Besides the impressively arching ceiling, one of the things most noticeable about the interior design is the series of carved figures located throughout the large room.
The five figures represents the continents, with other figures representing prosperity, commerce, and the postal service itself. There’s even an olifant!
The building was designed by Joseph Crouwel in the Amsterdam School style of architecture. It was completed in 1924. Some of the trademarks of the Amsterdam School that are visible in the Postkantoor include extensive use of brick, organic, rounded shapes, glasswork, and integrated architectural sculptures. If you’re in Utrecht, it’s definitely worth a visit, although if you’re going to take photos, try to be as unobtrusive as possible. They tend to tell you to stop if they notice you, especially if you’re taking photos of the workers themselves.

The Post Office