A tour of two cities

By PRP – 25 May 2018

Every year we organise a practice study trip where we visit some of the most inspiring examples of housing and mixed-use development in Europe, whilst enjoying each other's company.

This year we went to the Netherlands. In Amsterdam we explored new innovative development on reclaimed land, which lay beyond the city's well-known historic streets and canals. And in the post-war urban landscape of Rotterdam, we were awed by some of the city's varied and experimental architecture, which has made Rotterdam the centre of the Netherlands' architectural community.

Day one started with a walk around Fundenpark, a new residential quarter in Amsterdam created on a former railway yard. We then visited urban extensions to the city, shaped by water. This included a trip to Ijburg (which translates as 'town on the river'). This was created on three new islands built using the 'polder' system. The day concluded with a boat trip around Amsterdam's Eastern docks, which were regenerated in the 1980s.

Architectural rivalry has always existed between the two cities, and it all began 100 years ago with the arrival of Europe's first high-rise building in Rotterdam. Since then landmark buildings have become increasingly more dramatic, including the zany oblique geometry of the Cube Houses by Piet Blom. Posed with challenge of creating high-density housing, Blom tilted the houses 45 degrees and rested them on hexagonal shaped pylons to optimize interior space.

Another building that breaks with convention is the 11-storey 'Markthal'; a horse-shoe shaped apartment building that shelters the market hall below. Inside, the building is decorated with the world's largest artwork from Dutch digital artist Arno Coenen, covering the arched ceiling and walls in bright, flowers, fruit and fish.

Providing opportunities for our employees to see examples of some amazing and thought provoking architecture, is important to PRP. Not only does it provide a learning experience that inspires and impresses with the creativity and variety of schemes, it is also a chance to bond, and enjoy a great weekend together.