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Architecture as social utopia: The Amsterdam School

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At its peak from around 1910 to 1930, the Amsterdam School brought together the leading Dutch architects of the period in a loose alliance that was Expressionistic in style and politically committed: the School’s leading practitioners were eager to build housing for the working class that was of the highest possible standard. Several of these utopian ventures have survived here in Amsterdam, but perhaps the most architecturally pleasing is the delightful Het Schip just west of the city centre. A municipal housing block designed by Michael de Klerk (1884–1923), it takes its name from its ship-like shape and is graced by all manner of decorative details, such as wavy brick facades and misshapen windows.

The Museum Het Schip

Housed inside the complex’s former post office at Spaarndammerplantsoen 140, the Museum Het Schip (Tues–Sun 11am–5pm; €7.50; w hetschip.nl) explores the history of the Amsterdam School and details the building’s principal features. Regular half-hour guided tours take you inside one of the restored residences – the block is still used as social housing today – and up to the main turret. It takes about 15min to get there from Centraal Station on bus #22 – get off at the terminus and it’s a short walk.

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