20 June 2012

EYE on the Amstel

This was the third leg of a carefully planned day exploring the architecture of Amsterdam.

The day started with a walk around Zeeburg and continued with an exploration of NEMO and its neighbours.

To complete my objectives for the day I had to make the short walk north to the Central Station.

This looks and behaves just like a major station should. The building is both functional and decorative and has before it a large square where you can catch buses and trams.

But I was looking for another form of transport. Walking through the station takes you directly to the harbour side where ferries shuttle people and their bikes between the north and south shores.

There are three ferries that leave from adjacent docks. And that is my excuse for getting on the wrong one.

But that was no problem as the ferries are free and are walk-on-walk-off with no barriers, tickets or other such mularky.

The wrong ferry did not go very far so I just got off it long enough to take its picture before it turned around just a couple of minutes later.

It was second time lucky and the next ferry was the right one. That was just as well as the third ferry took a much longer route down the canal to the west and that would have been a much longer round trip.

The inadvertent detour was also an opportunity as a boat trip across a busy harbour is always worth doing.

One of the more obvious sights was the vast cruiser moored at the passenger terminal. Even at a distance it looks big and it dwarfs all but the tallest buildings.

Seeing a boat as big of this in harbour and then head for the Atlantic along the canal made me think of London and how we have let our nautical heritage die with the exception of one or two show pieces like HMS Belfast.

Amsterdam was founded and grew on its nautical trade but, unlike London, it still fully embraces the water. I live just a couple of hundred meters from the Thames yet the only time that I go on boats is when I am on holiday.

Getting off the right ferry brought me directly to the building that I had come to see, the EYE Film Institute, and you can see why it interested me.

One of the ways that I fuel my interest in architecture is through the blog A Daily Dose of Architecture and that introduced me to the EYE earlier this year.

The building is clearly designed to be striking and is a riverside cultural monument in much the same way that the South Bank Centre is in London or the Opera House in Oslo.

The more obvious comparison is with Oslo due to the sloping white lines. Sadly you cannot climb these slopes.

Inside it is spacious and fresh if a little familiar in that this could be the interior of any number of modern buildings.

It is the outiside that is special and luckily that is where the bar is.

The EYE sits on a little headland and from the bar there are sweeping views of the harbour where you can marvel at how such a large boat as the cruiser can pass without hitting any of the other boats.

The return ferry is a chance to consider the ferry terminal on the south side, next to the station.

The metal and glass arches that cover the tracks have been copied by a new arch that covers the road, footpaths and cycle paths that fill the narrow stretch of land between the rails and the river.

The crane is just one of many on the south side that is part of Amsterdam's continual battle for space.

You can also see another one of the blue ferries edging in to the picture. It is pretty hard to take a picture of the harbour without at least one of them in it.

Turning to look back to face north reminds you just why you made the journey in the first place.

The EYE is a sumptuous building and the fact that you have to get there by ferry makes it even more attractive.

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