Houthaven

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This former lumber wharf is coming forward in north Amsterdam, following a now familiar pattern of canal fingers (see also Sluseholmen), bridges and close-packed homes of very varied typology. I usually warm towards higher density neighbourhoods - something fairer and more embracing about them - but it was the lower rise street which delighted me here. It brought to mind the Urban Splash street in Manchester; but what struck me in Houthaven was the sheer confidence of it: a long street of lovingly detailed terraces rolled out, and finished. The vertical pocket planting marking the house boundaries is a delightful gesture. For architecture nerds, the projecting section of window is a nod (I think) to the Amsterdam School. What I do struggle with, and this is probably just personal preference, is the busy variety which seems to attend every new build housing area. I feel like I’m looking at a gigantic sample panel at times, in contrast to the rich calm of the 10s/20s Amsterdam.

The office bit of Houthaven is somewhat bonkers: a series of ‘look-at-me’ pavilions set on a migraine-inducing crazy-paved platform. There wasn’t the usual messy array of bikes (no bike racks shock!), nor were there caffs at ground floor: just officey types smoking. Don’t go all corporate on us Amsterdam!