Amsterdam, the capital of Netherlands is popular as a Golden Age city of canals with narrow colorful houses forming its backdrop. A deeper dive into the city’s landscape gives us a  glimpse of its exceptional city planning, myriad architectural styles, picturesque bridges, and incredible infrastructure.

Amsterdam is a haven for design lovers. It is among the few cities in the world where modern architecture co-exists beautifully with age-old monuments. You take a tour of a 19th-century neighborhood, and by the end of it, find yourself surrounded by futuristic-looking buildings. Such is the magic of Amsterdam!

The Canal houses of Amsterdam©GregMen via Flickr

1. NEMO Science Center

Renzo Piano’s greenish copper building is inspired by the IJ tunnel on which it sits. In contrast to the distinctive pre-oxidized copper-clad facade, the building has a neutral grey interior to keep the focus on the exhibits.

Designed as Netherland’s highest city square, the building’s roof is accessible through stepped walkways and ramps. It is famous for its open-air exhibitions, installations, restaurants, and panoramic views of Amsterdam’s historic center.

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Nemo Science Museum ©David Kosmos
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Smith via Flickr Largest roof terrace in Amsterdam ©
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Nemo Science Museum ©purpletwinkie via Flickr
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The oxidized copper-clad facade of the building ©Baptiste Pons via Flickr

2. Van Gogh Museum Exhibition Wing

Devoted to Van Gogh’s life and work, this elliptical building flaunts the juxtaposition of stone and glass volumes. The relation between architecture and environment is exemplary, with the daylight streaming into the building and the outside views provided through the glass structure.

With its state-of-the-art construction technology, and the art galleries featuring the finest artists, it is a heaven for art and architecture lovers.

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Van Gogh Museum Exposition Wing; ©Sebastian Koppehel
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Entrance atrium; ©Jan-KeesSteenman
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Glass entrance hall©Marcelo Campi via Flickr
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Interior view through the transparent glassConstruction©Jan-KeesSteenman

3. Eye Film Museum

Sitting at the crossroads of history and modernity, and water and land, this architectural and cinematic landmark permeates the boundaries of the urban fabric and the cinematographic universe.

The building is an exemplary icon of modern architecture with its exuberant shape, diverse lighting conditions, the terrace-like steps with changeable functions, and the geometrically tailored aluminum panels on the facade.

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The Eye Film Museum at night; Source: soomness via Flickr
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The outdoor terrace of the museum©Tine van Voorst via Flickr
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Entrance to the museum ©austria-architects
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View of the terrace; ©Tine van Voorst via Flickr

4. Borneo + Sporenburg Bridges

Winner of the International Footbridge Award in 2002, these two bridges connect the islands of Borneo and Sporenburg with a span of 93 meters. The Python high bridge named for its snake-like shape, allows sailboats to pass underneath it, while the low LageBrug bridge was designed for cyclists and handicapped.

The sculptural design and the bright red steel frames add a dynamic character to the Eastern Docklands.

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The Amsterdam Python Bridge ©Wikimedia Common
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Steel bridge ©
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The bridges on the East and West side; ©
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The bridges on the East and West side; ©

5. RAI Car Park

The design of the car park is characterized by two helix-shaped towers emerging from a simple, rectangular building. The open planning of the first floor makes it multifunctional and can be used for hosting exhibitions and conventions, and can also be connected to the exhibition halls of the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre through sliding doors.

The spiraling concrete ramps illuminated by LED lights at night make the building even more impressive.

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The RAI Car Park; ©
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Helix shaped ramp leading to the car park©JannesLinders via Archello
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Multifunctional car park ©JannesLinders via ArchelloGenomineerd
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The RAI Car Park ©

6. Rijksmuseum

First opened in 1885, the national museum is a masterpiece in itself. This monumental structure designed in the Dutch Neo-Renaissance style was recently renovated and refurbished.

The interior is sleek, modern, and beautifully arranged, contrary to the imposing façade. Along with the mesmerizing art and architecture, the museum also boasts of beautifully landscaped gardens that act as an outdoor gallery for sculptures, and temporary exhibitions.

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TheRitualsAmsterdamCollection a CollaborationwithTheRijksmuseum©
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Cuypers library in the museum; ©
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Interior part of the newly renovated Rijksmuseum©Frans de Wit from Netherlands
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The building from the exterior; ©Nuno Cardoso via Flickr
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The Great Hall; ©
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The Atrium Hall©
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The Gallery of Honour©
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Entrance to the atrium©


The Amsterdam Center for Architecture is a compact monolithic structure that provides architectural information about the city of Amsterdam. The building’s lowest floor is used for debates, discussions, and meetings on architecture and urban design.

This trapezium-shaped building is famous for its zinc-coated aluminum strips that seamlessly cover the entire structure, the sloping glass facade of the entrance, and the glass facade opening toward the waterfront.

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ARCAM; ©Wojtek Gurak via Flickr
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The Architecture Center of Amsterdam ©Artur Salisz via Flickr
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The facadeis cladded in coated aluminum ©
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Interior of the building ©

8. Strawinskylaan Bicycle Parking

This bicycle parking with a capacity of 3750 parking spaces is the largest underground bike parking in the Dutch capital. In the words of Oriol Casas Cancer, the project architect, “The bicycle parking can be seen as a public interior, but also as an underground outdoor space, an extension of the square above”.

The quality of light, the generous ceiling height, and the air-conditioned entrance area offers a high level of comfort to the visitors.

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Strawinskylaan Bicycle Parking; ©
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Tree-shaped steel columns; ©
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Entrance to the parking lot; ©
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Epoxy flooring and ceiling islands ©

9. RAI Convention Center

Popularly known as the Elicium, the building comprises conference rooms, multi-functional halls, and theatres. The structure of the building emerges from the ground in one swift movement with the exhibition space hovering 5 meters above the street level.

The building has been planned using state-of-the-art environmental technologies including a semi-climatic façade, smart insulation, and underground thermal storage.

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RAI Convention Center ©Artur Salisz via Flickr
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Side elevation of the building©
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The building at night ©
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Interior of the building©

10. Hotel Nhow      

The design of this 24 storeyed hotel is inspired by a triangular advertising column that once was the tallest structure in the area. The three volumes stacked above each other are twisted along the central axis at an angle of 60 degrees. The facade made of aluminum infilled with glass panels allows the visitors to capture views of the cityscape.

The twisted design of the building adds a distinctive character to the skyline of the city.

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Evening view of the hotel; Source:
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Composition of three triangular volumes; Source:
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The Nhow; Source:
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Entrance to the hotel; Source:

11. Hotel Jakarta

This hotel has been accredited BREEAM Excellent certification for its energy-neutral design. Along with being completely prefabricated, another characteristic feature of the hotel is the sub-tropical garden in its atrium, which is not a mere piece of decoration but makes its presence felt in the space, and also acts as a temperature regulator. The transparent facade makes the hotel publically accessible and provides visitors with views of the river.

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View of the Hotel ©
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The sky bar©
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Energy neutral building ©
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Sub-tropical garden in the atrium ©

12. Stedelijk Museum

Extension to the 1895 museum, the building is designed to respect the characteristics of the old building including the color white which can be seen throughout the museum. Albeit the contrasting differences of the exterior, the conjuncture of the two buildings on the inside is impeccable.

Nicknamed as ‘The Bathtub’, its white exterior is made from a fiber-reinforced composite material, which is also used in the aviation industry.

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The Stedelijk Museum©
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The cantilevered roof©
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Interior of the building©
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Escalators enclosed in a tube©

13. Silodam

The variegated mixed-use building is a part of an urban regeneration project that transformed a former dam and silos into a residential neighborhood.

The building questions our preconceived notions about building typology and functionality by mixing different housing types, offices, and commercial, and public spaces. The change in the type of space is characterized by the difference in color, material, and size of the units and is also highlighted on the building’s facade.

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The Silodam Housing Project ©Flickr
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Diversity of colors; ©Flickr
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Corner view of the building; ©
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The building rests on piles ©Mariano Mantel via Flickr

14. Museum Het Schip

Emblematic of the Amsterdam School of Architecture, this expressionist building with its orange-brown brickwork, sculptures, minarets, and wave-like facade, vaguely resembles the outlines of a ship. The Schip exemplifies the School’s thought of the integration of arts and crafts with architecture.

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The Museum of Het Schip; ©
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Northwestern corner with bay window ©
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Northwestern corner with bay window ©
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Waves in brick©

15. Conservatorium Hotel

An excellent example of Adaptive Reuse, this century-old former music conservatory, has been refurbished into Amsterdam’s finest hotel. The architect has successfully retained the charm of the old building while delicately adding new elements. The blend between the old and the new has been accentuated by paying close attention to the detailing and choice of materials used for the construction.

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The Neo-Gothic Building; ©
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The exterior of the glass atrium; ©
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Atrium; ©
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The bar; ©
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Corten steel black staircase; ©
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Vaulted staircase lobby ©

Idea girl & strong-minded, Kiran is an architecture enthusiast & sucker for words. When not reading, she can be found gorging movies & sitcom.

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