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Architecture students, 1-2 weeks, advice??

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Jun 3rd, 2014, 11:34 AM
  #1
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Architecture students, 1-2 weeks, advice??

Hi there,

Me and a buddy are going on a mini-travelling break at the start of September - we are talking 1 to 2 weeks to keep cost down (poor students) and to tie in with starting back at uni in London.

There's only one place we HAVE to go and that's Utrecht, Netherlands - mainly because I need to go visit a building there as part of my university course.

Obviously, this part of the trip could be completed within a day or 2, but from there we are after some advice from you lovely people as to the best way to spend our remaining time.

Firstly, in such a small time-frame is it worth trying to turn this into a cross-country inter-railing experience? Or should we lower our aspirations to sticking within / around the Netherlands?

Secondly, (with either option) what would you suggest as a potential itinerary for two young architecture enthusiasts / students? While we are keen to visit main architectural landmarks, we are equally interested in experiencing the lesser known places that hold cultural significance or show what a place is really like.

Finally, with a trip no longer than 2 weeks, is it even worth buying the Inter-rail train passes, or is it more cost effective to purchase the journeys individually / fly whenever feasible?

Thank you in advance and apologies for the fairly vague post. I'm sure you'll have just as many questions for me as I will have for you!

Liam
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Jun 3rd, 2014, 11:42 AM
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Finally, with a trip no longer than 2 weeks, is it even worth buying the Inter-rail train passes, or is it more cost effective to purchase the journeys individually / fly whenever feasible?>

Well this obviously cannot be answered unless you have a fairly firm idea of which trains and where you will be taking them.

And whether you want flexibility to chose your trains once there and in many countries with a pass just hop on.

Or you can go to the various national rail web sites and book, far far in advance to guarantee the discounted tickets that would probably for someone not on the train everyday to be the cheapest bet - but if you want flexibility not necessarily the best bet - full fare and fully flexible tickets often cost a fortune - discounted tickets usually have restrictions as to changes and refunds - often none.

Great sites for learning about European trains: www.seat61.com - by a British bloke emphasizing travel from Britain to various places on the Continent; www.rickstevees.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. Inter-Rail Passes let you chose which countries you want your pass to be valid in - each country at a different price so check it out.

Cheap flights are also possible - say you take the Eurostar train to Beglium - Bruges there is a wonderful old city oozing great Flemish architecture in its many centuries-old warehouses lining old canals - then work your way thru the Netherlands, Germany to someplace then quickly fly back to London - www.whichbudget.com and www.skuyscanner.net tell you which airlines link any two airports - maybe you want to end up in Rome - for architecture of a classic bent it can't be beat.

You could take an overnight train there from Germany - like Munich or to Florence, a bastion of Renaissance architecture.
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Jun 3rd, 2014, 11:50 AM
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That's a tough one, I'm not an architecture student but enjoy the subject (and have actually taken a court once on the history of French architecture). Do you have any special interests in the architectural field? I just assume it could make a big difference if you were interested in a certain period, or public buildings vs. homes, or large industrial buildings vs. apartments, or if you were interested in bridges, etc.

Having said that, I would say that Brussels is one of the main centers for the Art Nouveau architecture and there is an entire section of that city with a lot of good examples of the work of Victor Horta, for example, and a museum in his house http://www.hortamuseum.be/ I don't think there is much Art Nouveau in the UK although I could well be wrong on that. But it was a very important design period in history, so that is one suggestion.

As for France, of course there is Paris which has more Art Nouveau (Guimard) but some more modern buildings by Corbusier. Of course lots of examples of various kinds. But they do have an excellent architecture/building museum, also, at the Trocadero.

I'm not sure about the interrail pass, I suspect it isn't cost effective in your case, but am no expert on that so will defer to others in that assessment.

YOu can easily do the Netherlands, Brussels and Paris on your way back to London by Eurostar. That's too much for one week, though, but you could do it in two weeks (spending maybe 2 days in Brussels, maybe 4 in Paris). Or put more in France if you are more interested in it than the Netherlands, don't know your focus.
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Jun 3rd, 2014, 11:51 AM
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I would include Rotterdam. The town was destroyed by bombing during WWII and now they have a wonderful combination of modern architecture, that can be aesthetically interesting, whimsical, and practical. They also have wide pedestrian boulevards which are unusual in Belgium and The Netherlands. They also have a wonderfully designed rail station. BTW, the rail station in Antwerp is also worth a visit as it kept some the Belle Epoque design while accommodating new high speed trains. Very clever and engaging.

Brugge is a remarkable town that is destroyed by people like myself- marauding tourists. It has its medieval architecture in tact but they have artfully lit the canals for night viewing.

I have not seen a city use light and night better than Paris along the Seine. I still truly hate the IM Pei pyramid at the Louvre. Someone asked me what I would have done (I am not architect or designer) but in order to let in light into the Louvre public spaces, I would have built a structure that reflected the surrounding architecture but had massive stained windows of the same blues and reds that are in cathedrals in Chartres and Paris, and according to the angle of the sun, bathe the Louvre visitors in those colors.
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Jun 3rd, 2014, 12:36 PM
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I'll second Rotterdam as a great place for contemporary architecture - amongst the most avant-garde in Europe.
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Jun 3rd, 2014, 01:11 PM
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These photos were taken in the last month.

The various buildings is Rotterdam

The canal at night is Brugge

I just thought it was funny that the statue was peeing through its shirt.

The woman in the bed was a promotion by a bookstore in Gent

The shoes were a flea market in Amsterdam.

The weird baby thing was in Antwerp

And the saints with eyeliner was in Brussels.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos
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Jun 3rd, 2014, 02:18 PM
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If you want modern domestic architecture then there are plenty of places in the Netherlands with very modern, but very affordable housing, totally different to the mock Georgian/Tudor Boxes still churned out in the UK.
You could also visit, for instance the Lucent Dans Theatre in the Hague, designed by Rem Koolhaas, who also desigend de Rotterdam, in Rotterdam.
Towns like Hilversum have distinctive architecture by Dudok, the town hall is particularly notable by him.
In Amersfoort you have the medieval centre, with gates and wall sill standing and some of the modern domestic architecture I mentioned on the outskirts.
Whilst in Utrecht visit the Oude Gracht and see the unique cellars, also the Vredenberg/Tivoli music centre, which incorparates an original (and magnificent concert all into a new building with several other smaller halls. I assume the Rietveld Schroder huis is the building you have to see there. Take time to appreciate the city and it's mix of some very brutal post war architecture with it's beautiful older areas.

In Amsterdam, besides the obvious around the canals, you could head out to the Zuid tangent and see the ING building, or to the Biljmer, where urban renewal is at work, plus several interesting office building nearby. The Beurs van Berlage in the centre is also worth a visit, as is the library and the area south of the Ij - Ijburg, which is new and modern or redeveloped warehouses.

Easily enough to fill more than a couple of days.
If you want more specifics on any of my suggestions do say.
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Jun 3rd, 2014, 03:18 PM
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Some great ideas here! The IM Pei pyramid at the louvre is a point, I had a friend getting a PhD in architectural history who was fascinated about seeing that when it was first built.

Paris doesn't have too much great contemporary architecture that I can think of. The most avant-garde French designers like Nouvel are doing things elsewhere, I think (eg Spain). I do like La Defense. Now that I think of it, Nouvel did do the new Branly Museum and the INstitut du Monde Arabe, for which he won a prize.
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Jun 3rd, 2014, 03:24 PM
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Wow thanks for the quick responses and excellent advice!

After a proper investigation into the architecture around the Netherlands I think it's safe to say we are both feeling a little ashamed... the architecture is so interesting but neither of us had ever really looked into this part of the world before (other than the obvious Rietveld Schroder House and Koolhaas)!

Because of this, we are definitely going to stay within the Netherlands and we are just going to try and hit as many of the cities as possible within 1 week; Amsterdam, Delft, Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague, and so on.

I guess my question to you now is 2-fold:

1) What is the most efficient route / order to visit these cities? We will be travelling by Eurostar so I suppose it will begin / end in Amsterdam (unless there's any better suggestions?)

2) What is the most cost effective way to travel around the country? Should we buy the one-country InterRail, pay each journey individually or is there another type of pass we can get? I assume our transport will have to be a mixture of trains, trams and buses?

Thanks
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Jun 3rd, 2014, 04:16 PM
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What does a one-country InterRail Pass cost?

go to www.ns.nl the Dutch Railways site for cost of ordinary trips.

In cities use the transit cards similar to London's Oyster Card - load up and debit as you go - giving the cheapest possible option. I think you may be able to use these in any Dutch city just like the old Strippen Kaasrts but not sure.
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Jun 3rd, 2014, 04:21 PM
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Yes, Rotterdam, an on-going experiment in urban renewal matched only by Singapore in my experience. The great harbour, with regular tourist cruises, poses all sorts of questions of the sort your classes consider. And when you get tired of that, the city has plenty of brown cafes, or pubs, to drink beer, especially the Belgian imports which dominate even the Dutch palatte these days.
It's a small country; take the local trains http://www.ns.nl/en/travellers/home or https://www.thalys.com for fast service elsewhere. Never buy a rail passs until you have researched the point-to-point ticket costs. As always, the font of all railway knowledge is www.seat61.com
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Jun 3rd, 2014, 04:35 PM
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In my rush to praise Rotterdam, I should have paused to mention Berlin, where half of the construction cranes in western Europe migrated after the capital came back home. Two points of interest (among the history): The Bahaus archives have a museum, although you know the actual institute was elsewhere. And fans of Frank Gehry can seek out his idiosyncratic bank interior near the Brandenburg gate. http://www.arcspace.com/features/geh...s-llp/dz-bank/. Enemies of Daniel Libeskind (I hate what he did to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto) can have their biases confirmed by his modifications to the Berlin Jewish museum http://www.jmberlin.de/main/EN/homepage-EN.php Great city, great debates, and not as expensive as the other European capitals.
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Jun 3rd, 2014, 07:18 PM
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I cannot stand Gehry. He asked for the $40,000 fee for his model for the Trade Center in NY. He told MIT to go to hell when his new building had all sorts of problems because MIT should have expected that. His usual design in LA was not thought through because they have sun 364 days a year and there was such glare in the area, people had to put special protective film on their windows. Arrogance, arrogance, arrogance.
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Jun 4th, 2014, 02:33 AM
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When pricing the inter-rail pass bear in mind that train fares will be €1 more expensive if you buy a ticket every time. The alternative, which you will need anyway for using other public transport is that you each get an anonymous OV chip card on arrival. You can then load that up with money and use on trams, buses and trains. The downside for train use is you must always have a minimum of €20 on the card before you can check in for a train.
You can buy the card at the GVB opposite the station in Amsterdam, or from a machine at the station. Since you are from the UK your ATM/debit cards and credit cards will work in the machines, and they do have an ENglish option.
If you go to NS.nl you can read more about using the cards, or go to https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/?taal=en .
A good resource for you also will be http://9292.nl/en#

Since September is conference time in Amsterdam, consider staying somewhere else. Utrecht is the main hub for trains in the Netherlands so that would perhaps be a good option. Also look at hostels, such as the StayOkay hostels.

You could consider a two or three country pass, as it is interesting to see how quickly architecture alters once you cross the borders.
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Jun 4th, 2014, 02:58 AM
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If you're interested in the Bauhaus school, the New Meisterhäuser in Dessau have just opened.

http://www.meisterhaeuser.de/en/index.html
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Jun 4th, 2014, 09:58 AM
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There is a large zone in Paris surrounding the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand in the 13th arrondissement that is serving as a laboratory for all sorts of new architectural ideas -- with a lot more buildings under construction on the way. You can see quite a few of them here: http://anyportinastorm.proboards.com...e-paris?page=1
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Jun 4th, 2014, 11:16 AM
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Art Nouveau?

antwerp, just across the Dutch border, overflows with it especially this street:


https://www.google.com/search?q=oogl...m=122&ie=UTF-8

And the Antwerp Central train station is ubiquitously listed amongst the most beautiful in the world:

https://www.google.com/search?q=antw...w=1455&bih=978
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Jun 4th, 2014, 12:34 PM
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If you want to see how 19th century industrial architecture merges with the 21st century, you can always see the viaduct of Issy-les-Moulineaux in the inner suburbs of Paris: http://anyportinastorm.proboards.com...les-moulineaux
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Jun 4th, 2014, 02:35 PM
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I haven't tried it but I came across an app called Rotterdam Architecture today. Might be worth a look. It is free.
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Jun 5th, 2014, 06:37 AM
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Well all in all IMO great architecture is everywhere you go - old ancient facades in Amsterdam to gleaming new contemporary buildings on its outer fringes.

Stuttgart Germany is famous for its Bauhaus - original Bauhaus residential neighborhood, built as one of the first modern housing projects in the 1920s to provide reasonable residences for workers - not all gussied up - if you like the Rietveld Schroder House and Koolhaas in Rotterdam you'll love the Bauhaus project in Stuttgart:

https://www.google.com/search?q=stut...w=1455&bih=978
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