19 June 2012

NEMO and neighbours

After the exploration of Zeeburg I headed for the eastern edge of the town, getting off the tram one stop before the Central Station.

This is an ugly industrial quarter and also home to the cruise ships passenger terminal. A few new buildings improve the area slightly but clearly there is more regeneration to be done.

My immediate target was another regeneration building, the NEMO Science Centre on the end of a long spur in to the harbour. There was a lot of water in the way and I had to cross three bridges to get their, the last of which is in the bottom-right of the picture.

It was the building that interested me, not the Science Centre inside it, though I did take advantage of the coffee bar on the ground floor to rest, drink, eat a little and make use of their free wi-fi.

Then the surprises started.

On the other side of NEMO was a collection of old boats, presumably connected with the Maritime Museum nearby.

Walking along the harbour south away from NEMO I found that you could climb up to the roof via a long set of shallow steps making a tall climb an easy one.

Climbing the steps slowly (I was in no rush to get anywhere) the views gradually changed and in a city that is relentlessly flat it was refreshing to be able to look down on things.

The whole of the rooftop of NEMO is laid out with steps to sit on, some games to play, falling water to paddle in (as people were, of course) and some of the best views in the city.

There was another cafe at the top and I was able to follow my earlier coffee with a leisurely beer while I took it all in. The beer and the views were all the better for being unexpected.

Climbing back down to the old boats I just had to take a picture of this one as Trot, or Trottie, was the name everybody called my Mum.

The other memory evoked by the boats was of the sea plays by Eugene O'Neill.

What I also liked about them was the obvious signs of function. Modern ships are like modern offices with little indication on the outside of how they work or of what is inside them.

In contrast the old boats are littered with ropes, sails, anchors, poles, winches and hooks.

The Maritime Museum is across some more water in a recently refurbished building that sits imposingly on the edge of the water certain that it has every right to be there. And it has.

Opposite, i.e. where I was standing to take this picture was a completely different building, the small, modern and oddly curved ARCAM Architecture Centre.

This was the last surprise of this part of the day's journey. If I had known the architecture centre was there then I would have planned to visit it.

It is a small building with a small exhibition space. It reminded me very much of the main exhibition room at RIBA that is also no size but somehow packed with interesting things.

One of the displays was on the architectural history of Amsterdam showing both how the city has expanded from its original centre and also the sort of buildings that made up each expansion.

The other main display was of a recent architecture competition with pictures and models of some of the entries.

Co-incidentally the winner was the Maritime Museum across the water. It won for a modern glass roof that covers the large courtyard in the centre. Not unimpressive but I thought that it been done many times before including at the British Museum and at Kings Cross Station.

NEMO and ARCAM are just a couple of hundred metres apart, the old boats lie between them and the Maritime Museum is almost in touching distance across the water. That is a lot of interesting stuff in quite a small space.

They are also exactly the sort of things that I go on holiday to see.

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