In the first part of this series, we presented an in-depth study of Amsterdam’s renowned Autopon building . By unpacking Le Corbusier’s ‘Five Points of New Architecture’, the article reveals a more ‘living’ nature of the Dutch modernist treasure. Inspired by this perspective – that buildings can be seen as living machines – we challenged photographer Dariusz Jasak to visually capture the building’s ‘aliveness’. Moved by his results, we asked Jasak to photograph a few more of Amsterdam’s modernist marvels. One of them being De Nederlandsche Bank – details and insights of which we provide in the photo essay below.
A huge thanks to Alexander Strengers – Chairman of De Nederlandsche Bank 's Art Committee – for hosting us and providing such an enlightening tour of the building.
We are now exhibiting all of Jasak’s photographs at Salle Privee House No. 9 in Amsterdam. On view until 30/03/2018, the exhibition is open to all.
Designed by architect M.F Duintjer, De Nederlandsche Bank's current home was opened in 1968. Back then, it could be seen as comprised of two main parts: Its wide low-rise section (pictured) and its 66-metre high-rise tower.
Over the years, a number of modifications were made – each affecting not just the form and function of the building but also that of the surrounds and community too. A prominent alteration was the prefabricated cylindrical tower added in 1991 (pictured left), but even the bank’s fences are told to have had quite an impact.
Pictured right: The facade of the DNB's Visitors' Centre, located across the road.
When initially fitted, the bank’s fences were met with great disapproval from the neighbourhood. Commissioning Dutch artist Peter Struycken, the fences were somewhat camouflaged while simultaneously being rendered into a beautiful public artwork. Following the makeover, the neighbourhood ceased complaints and commended the bank for listening.
At a glance, it’s easy to miss two examples of highly skilful construction. First, rather than being perfectly parallel, the building’s high-rise tower actually tapers inward as it ascends. Taking a closer look one will also notice that every partition of the bank’s high-rise tower increases in size going up. These subtle details are in fact an adaption of a greek architectural technique. Together they create the illusion that the tower is taller than it really is.
In near future, De Nederlandsche Bank is apparently set to undergo a major redesign – the aim being to undo many of the more recent alterations and ultimately restore the building, as close as possible, to its original form. A result of this may be the removal of the bank’s cylindrical tower. While renovations take place, there is also a good chance that the bank’s fences will be lifted, allowing the public to once again walk freely through the premises.
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