Tag Archives: Dutch architecture

Delft Blue in the Red Light District

Have you ever flown business class with KLM? If you have, you most likely received a small Delft Blue Porcelain house on board. KLM has been handing these out to Business Class passengers since 1953. Law dictated that Air companies were not allowed to give presents to their customers because of unfair competition. So, KLM had some Blue Delft houses made, and filled them with Dutch genever. The airline snickered at complaints from the competition. “May we decide how we serve our drinks please? Does the law dictate drinks have to be served in a glass?”. Very clever, as the miniature homes have been collectors items since. They enjoy an almost iconic status with fan sites and trading communities online all over the world. KLM has even launched an App for those collecting the houses so they can complete their collection.

KLM huisjes App

For the true die-hard fans it is now possible to live in a house modelled on the KLM houses. In 2009, Stadsherstel Amsterdam, an organisation involved in urban restoration in Amsterdam, wanted to spruce up ‘Oudezijds Armsteeg’, a badly run-down narrow street in the city’s red-light district. The plan was to make the street attractive to tourists again by introducing business activities and giving it a real Amsterdam feeling. Jaap Hulscher, deputy director of Stadsherstel, was once handed a miniature house on board of a KLM flight, and started wondering if this is what people from around the world thought the Dutch houses looked like.

Out of the Blue, Stadsherstel Amsterdam

Architect Kees Doornenbal was given the assignment to design 6 houses inspired by the iconic KLM houses. The project is called Out of the Blue. The outside walls are painted in a shiny white to make them look like they are porcelain. The window frames and eaves are painted in royal blue to mimic the blue used in Delftware. The first habitants have been given their keys.

Oudezijds Armsteeg today

Air France-KLM, as the company if officialy called, hasn’t been involved in the project, but was thrilled ‘their’ houses inspired this project. The company was however involved in another project where Delft Blue houses were the inspiration. In Caloocan City in the Philippines the airliner built family homes as part of its corporate social responsibility program. Each unit cost Php93,500 (USD2,100/EUR 1,600) and measures 20 square metres with one bedroom, toilet, bath, kitchen sink and a laundry area.

Air France-KLM village Caloocan City

Wonderful loft in ‘Amsterdamse School’ building

On the Dutch real-estate-buffs’ online bible Funda I found this wonderful loft type apartment in a typical Amsterdam School style building.  This architectural movement (Dutch: Amsterdamse School) arose in Amsterdam around 1910. The movement is part of international Expressionist architecture.  Many houses in the Amsterdam burroughs just outside the historic center were built in that style. This building is located in the Bohemian area called De Pijp and has views of a canal. It used to be the office of a Housing Estate association. Currently it houses apartments. The one on offer is located on the fourth and fifth floor and was completely remodelled in 2007.

amsterdamse school loft

Building, living room, kitchen detail

 The current owners created a light and very well proportioned three bedroom apartment with a sunny roof terrace. They did so in keep with the original character of the building. The first thing you notice when you enter (after a four flights of stairs climb!) is a cast iron spiral staircase. luckily, this leads only to the master bedroom. The other rooms are all on the fourth floor. 

Amsterdamse school loft

Dining area, spiral staircase to master bed, kitchen

There is a large and very light living room which stretches from the front to the rear part of the house. It features many skylights and windows allowing a lot of light to stream in. The open kitchen in the back of the room gives access to the spacious and sunny terrace. A further two bedrooms and full bathroom further complement this floor.  

amsterdam canal house

Small bedroom, terrace, living room

The apartment is for sale for €410.000,- which seems fair for what you get. 

The Homevoyeurs webshop sells many books about Dutch architecture. For instance Contemporary Dutch School Architecture, By Dolf Broekhuizen, Ton Verstegen, Paul Groenendijk, Like Bijlsma.

The last farm-house of Gouda

My cousin Berend sent me through photographs of his old farm house in Gouda (that’s right, the same Gouda as the cheese). Here is what he wrote:  

What a great thing to show your home to others. Here is my home. It’s totally opposite of what most people would expect. Nothing fancy, no decorations but just sturdy simplicity. It was built around the year 1500 as a farmhouse, just outside Gouda. As the town grew larger, the farm got surrounded. In the late nineteenth century the cows were sold and the barn torn down. Only the front living quarters were kept and restored about twenty years ago by an artistically well raised porcelain manufacturer who kicked the bucket right in the living room some years ago. That’s the way things go in an old farmhouse.  I bought it after my divorce to get my life back on the track again. I never refurnished it, I just put my stuff in there. Period. The pictures demonstrate it all. I must say I’ve never lived in a house that is so rigidly built. There a no construction failures as in many other old houses. It rest on concrete foundation, with big beams to support the rather high ceiling. The bathroom, toilet and attic are downright ugly but strong as hell.  


High ceilings with exposed beams and great light!


This house is for sale, I’m moving in with my new partner. The next owner will have a solid space to decorate according to his own believes. I never did and liked it that way.  

Large French windows with original shutters


Well Berend, it sure is a great house!  According to the realtor selling it, it is Gouda’s last remaining farm-house. However, to be honest, your realtor can do with a bit of styling advice because the pictures he took are not very appealing and don’t do the house and your furniture any justice. I love how you kept it rustic by not cluttering it too much. 

For folk able to see through the photographs and recognize the massive potential; check the house here. It is on the market for a very affordable €189.000. Try buying anything for that in Amsterdam!