Architecture of the Netherlands

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View of the Carambei Historical Park mill and houses in Dutch architecture on the left Moinho Parque Historico Carambei.jpg
View of the Carambeí Historical Park mill and houses in Dutch architecture on the left

Dutch architecture has played an important role in the international discourse on architecture in three eras. The first of these was during the 17th century, when the Dutch empire was at the height of its power. The second was in the first half of the 20th century, during development of modernism. The third is not concluded and involves many contemporary Dutch architects who are achieving global prestige.



Renaissance and baroque

The Vleeshal in Haarlem, dating from 1603 Haarlem Vleeshal1.jpg
The Vleeshal in Haarlem, dating from 1603

The Dutch Golden Age roughly spanned the 17th century. Due to the thriving economy, cities expanded greatly. New town halls and storehouses were built, and many new canals were dug out in and around various cities such as Delft, Leiden and Amsterdam for defence and transport purposes. Many wealthy merchants had a new houses built along these canals. These houses were generally very narrow and had ornamented façades that befitted their new status. In the countryside, new country houses were built, though not in the same numbers.

Dutch Golden Age Historical period of the Netherlands from 1575 to 1675

The Dutch Golden Age was a period in the history of the Netherlands, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade, science, military, and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. The first section is characterized by the Eighty Years' War, which ended in 1648. The Golden Age continued in peacetime during the Dutch Republic until the end of the century.

Delft City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam, to the southeast, and The Hague, to the northwest. Together with them, it is part of both Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area and the Randstad.

Leiden City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Leiden is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. The municipality of Leiden had a population of 123,856 in August 2017, but the city forms one densely connected agglomeration with its suburbs Oegstgeest, Leiderdorp, Voorschoten and Zoeterwoude with 206,647 inhabitants. The Netherlands Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) further includes Katwijk in the agglomeration which makes the total population of the Leiden urban agglomeration 270,879, and in the larger Leiden urban area also Teylingen, Noordwijk, and Noordwijkerhout are included with in total 348,868 inhabitants. Leiden is located on the Oude Rijn, at a distance of some 20 kilometres from The Hague to its south and some 40 km (25 mi) from Amsterdam to its north. The recreational area of the Kaag Lakes (Kagerplassen) lies just to the northeast of Leiden.

Of Italian renaissance architecture, primarily visual characteristics such as pillars, pilasters, pediments and rustication were adopted, since many Dutch architects were unable to read the theoretical substantiation, which was often written down in Italian or Latin. Horizontal lines were emphasised, contrasting with the vertical emphasis of Gothic architecture. For instance, light-coloured bands were embedded into facades to emphasise this horizontal character. Another common application in Dutch renaissance architecture, particularly in Amsterdam, was the stepped gable, which was meant to hide the diagonal lines of the gable behind the straight lines of the façade. [1]

Crow-stepped gable stairstep type of design at the top of the triangular gable-end of a building

A crow-stepped gable, stepped gable, or corbie step is a stairstep type of design at the top of the triangular gable-end of a building. The top of the parapet wall projects above the roofline and the top of the brick or stone wall is stacked in a step pattern above the roof as a decoration and as a convenient way to finish the brick courses.

The architecture of the first republic in Northern Europe was marked by sobriety and restraint, and was meant to reflect democratic values by quoting extensively from classical antiquity. It found its impetus in the designs of Hendrick de Keyser, who was instrumental in establishing a Venetian-influenced style into early 17th-century architecture through new buildings like the Noorderkerk ("Northern church", 1620-1623) and Westerkerk ("Western church", 1620-1631) in Amsterdam. In general, architecture in the Low Countries, both in the Counter-Reformation-influenced south and Protestant-dominated north, remained strongly invested in northern Italian Renaissance and Mannerist forms that predated the Roman High Baroque style of Borromini and Bernini. Instead, the more austere form practiced in the Dutch Republic was well suited to major building patterns: palaces for the House of Orange and new civic buildings, uninfluenced by the Counter-Reformation style that made some headway in Antwerp.

Classical antiquity Age of the ancient Greeks and Romans

Classical antiquity is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 5th or 6th century AD centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome known as the Greco-Roman world. It is the period in which Greek and Roman society flourished and wielded great influence throughout Europe, North Africa and Western Asia.

Hendrick de Keyser Dutch architect

Hendrick de Keyser was a Dutch sculptor and architect born in Utrecht, Netherlands, who was instrumental in establishing a late Renaissance form of Mannerism in Amsterdam. He was the father of Thomas de Keyser who was an architect and portrait painter.

Venice Comune in Veneto, Italy

Venice is a city in northeastern Italy and the capital of the Veneto region. It is situated on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges. The islands are located in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed bay that lies between the mouths of the Po and the Piave rivers. In 2018, 260,897 people resided in the Comune di Venezia, of whom around 55,000 live in the historical city of Venice. Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE), which is considered a statistical metropolitan area, with a total population of 2.6 million.

Town Hall of Amsterdam, built in 1665 Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam.jpg
Town Hall of Amsterdam, built in 1665

The major exponents of the mid-17th century, Jacob van Campen and Pieter Post, adopted de Keyser's forms for such eclectic elements as giant-order pilasters, gable roofs, central pediments, and vigorous steeples. Brought together in a coherent combination, these stylistic developments anticipated Wren's Classicism. The most ambitious constructions of the period included the seats of self-government in Amsterdam (1646) and Maastricht (1658), designed by Campen and Post, respectively. On the other hand, the residences of the House of Orange are closer to a typical burgher mansion than to a royal palace. Two of these, Huis ten Bosch and Mauritshuis, are symmetrical blocks with large windows, stripped of ostentatious Baroque flourishes. The same austerely geometrical effect is achieved without great cost or pretentious effects at the stadholder's summer residence of Het Loo.

Jacob van Campen painter and architect from the Northern Netherlands

Jacob van Campen, was a Dutch artist and architect of the Golden Age.

Pieter Post painter and architect from the Northern Netherlands

Pieter Jansz Post was a Dutch Golden Age architect, painter and printmaker.

Christopher Wren English architect

Sir Christopher Wren PRS FRS was an English anatomist, astronomer, geometer, and mathematician-physicist, as well as one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history. He was accorded responsibility for rebuilding 52 churches in the City of London after the Great Fire in 1666, including what is regarded as his masterpiece, St Paul's Cathedral, on Ludgate Hill, completed in 1710.

Another of the designs used by the Dutch was the use of warm colors such as red or dark orange. They also were roughly textured and had tended to be darkened due to the rough texturing. The use of architectural symmetrical balance was part of their habits as well.


Rietveld Schroder House (1924), designed by Gerrit Rietveld Rietveld-SchroderhuisUtrechttheNetherlands.jpg
Rietveld Schröder House (1924), designed by Gerrit Rietveld

During the 20th century Dutch architects played a leading role in the development of modern architecture. Out of the early 20th century rationalist architecture of Berlage, architect of the Beurs van Berlage, separate groups developed during the 1920s, each with their own view on which direction modern architecture should take. Expressionist architects like Michel de Klerk and Piet Kramer were associated with Amsterdam (see Amsterdam School). Another group consisted of more functionalist architects ( Nieuwe Zakelijkheid or Nieuwe Bouwen), such as Mart Stam, Leendert van der Vlugt, and Johannes Duiker, who had good ties with the international modernist group CIAM. A third group came out of the De Stijl movement, among them J.J.P. Oud and Gerrit Rietveld. Both architects later built in a functionalist style.

Hendrik Petrus Berlage Dutch architect (1856-1934)

Hendrik Petrus Berlage was a prominent Dutch architect.

Beurs van Berlage building in Amsterdam

The Beurs van Berlage is a building on the Damrak, in the centre of Amsterdam. It was designed as a commodity exchange by architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage and constructed between 1896 and 1903. It influenced many modernist architects, in particular functionalists and the Amsterdam School. It is now used as a venue for concerts, exhibitions and conferences.

Michel de Klerk Dutch architect

Michel de Klerk was a Dutch architect. Born to a Jewish family, he was one of the founding architects of the movement Amsterdam School. Early in his career he worked for other architects, including Eduard Cuypers. For a while, he also employed the Indonesian-born Liem Bwan Tjie, who would later become his country's pioneering proponent of the Amsterdam School and modern architecture. Of his many outstanding designs, very few have actually been built. One of his finest completed buildings is 'Het Schip' in the Amsterdam district of Spaarndammerbuurt.

A 1918 reaction to Dutch functionalist architecture was the Traditionalist School, which lasted until well after 1945.

See also

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Renaissance architecture architectural style

Renaissance architecture is the European architecture of the period between the early 14th and early 16th centuries in different regions, demonstrating a conscious revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture. Stylistically, Renaissance architecture followed Gothic architecture and was succeeded by Baroque architecture. Developed first in Florence, with Filippo Brunelleschi as one of its innovators, the Renaissance style quickly spread to other Italian cities. The style was carried to France, Germany, England, Russia and other parts of Europe at different dates and with varying degrees of impact.

Baroque architecture building style of the Baroque era

Baroque architecture is the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late 16th-century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church. It was characterized by new explorations of form, light and shadow, and dramatic intensity. Common features of Baroque architecture included gigantism of proportions; a large open central space where everyone could see the altar; twisting columns, theatrical effects, including light coming from a cupola above; dramatic interior effects created with bronze and gilding; clusters of sculpted angels and other figures high overhead; and an extensive use of trompe-l'oeil, also called "quadratura," with painted architectural details and figures on the walls and ceiling, to increase the dramatic and theatrical effect.

Lieven de Key Architect from the Northern Netherlands

Lieven de Key was a famous Dutch renaissance architect in the Netherlands, mostly known today for his works in Haarlem.

Amsterdam School style of architecture that arose from 1910 through about 1930 in The Netherlands

The Amsterdam School is a style of architecture that arose from 1910 through about 1930 in the Netherlands. The Amsterdam School movement is part of international Expressionist architecture, sometimes linked to German Brick Expressionism.

Dutch Baroque architecture architecture of the Baroque era in the Dutch Republic and its colonies

Dutch Baroque architecture is a variety of Baroque architecture that flourished in the Dutch Republic and its colonies during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century - Dutch painting during the period is covered by Dutch Golden Age painting.

Philips Vingboons was a Dutch architect. He was part of the school of Jacob van Campen, that is, Dutch Classicism. Vingboons was especially highly regarded in his native city of Amsterdam.

The Dutch city of Amsterdam has had many planned expansions over the past two centuries.

Oost-Indisch Huis former headquarters of the Dutch East India Company in Amsterdam

The Oost-Indisch Huis is an early 17th-century building in the centre of Amsterdam. It was the headquarters of the Amsterdam chamber of the Dutch East India Company. It is a listed Dutch national heritage site (rijksmonument).

Pieter de Keyser Dutch architect and sculptor

Pieter de Keyser was a Dutch Golden Age architect (bouwmeester) and sculptor. He followed in the footsteps of his father Hendrick de Keyser and completed a number of Hendrick de Keyser's buildings after his death in 1621.

Rivierenbuurt (Amsterdam) Neighbourhood of Amsterdam in North Holland, Netherlands

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City Hall (Delft) seat of government in Delft, Netherlands

The City Hall in Delft is a Renaissance style building on the Markt across from the Nieuwe Kerk. It is the seat of the city's government as well as a popular venue for civic wedding ceremonies. Most administrative functions have been transferred to an office inside the Delft railway station building. Originally designed by the Dutch architect Hendrick de Keyser, it was heavily changed over the centuries and was restored in the 20th century to its Renaissance appearance.

Makelaers Comptoir

't Makelaers Comptoir or Makelaarskantoor, the "brokers' office", is a 17th-century guildhall in Amsterdam, at the corner of Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and the alley Nieuwe Nieuwstraat. It is one of the few remaining guildhalls in Amsterdam.


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Nieuwe Waalse Kerk

The Nieuwe Waalse Kerk is a late 19th-century church building on the Keizersgracht canal in Amsterdam. The building, a rare example of Romanesque Revival architecture in Amsterdam, has rijksmonument status.

Willem de Keyser (architect) Dutch architect

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New Indies Style

New Indies Style is a modern architectural style used in the Dutch East Indies between the late 19th-century through pre-World War II 20th-century. New Indies Style is basically early modern (western) architecture which applies local architectural elements - such as wide eaves or prominent roof - as an attempt to conform with the tropical climate of Indonesia.


  1. "Hollandse renaissance". (in Dutch). Retrieved 22 December 2014.