“Mark, are you okay? I know Zumthor is your hero, but you need to keep breathing…”– my friend Lilly
See the above map that shows my route across the Netherlands and Germany.
Our first stop was in Amsterdam. During our time there, I spent the majority of my time marveling at the canals and narrowly dodging bikers, as they aggressively pedaled down the cobblestone roads.
Our second day we visited Rotterdam, one of the more modern cities in Holland because most of the harbor was bombed by the Nazis during WW2. A controversial project that we visited is the Markthall, originally a local farmers market run by small scale family businesses on the central plaza. In its place now sits an enormous enclosed plaza with expensive penthouse housing along the exterior. While the form of the building is rather unique, the change in character of the neighborhood is unavoidable.
The highlight of my visit to the Netherlands was visiting the Anne Frank House. It was one of the most sobering visits of my life. I distinctly remember thinking, this house doesn’t feel that old. And then the reality fully set in that the Holocaust occurred 75 years ago. Truly an impactful visit. (The museum asked us not to take any photos.)
The highlights of my visit to Germany was walking through the spaces designed by one of my favorite architects, Peter Zumthor. Born and raised in the world of Scandinavian design, his work has been praised for integrating local materials and workmanship. The first project we visited was a chapel out in the middle of a hill.
Below are some photos of the approach towards the building where it starts as part of the forest and slowly takes form. Also below is a photo of the interior from the internet as we weren’t allowed to take photos inside. The walls inside were poured by a local concrete craftsman and then burned to give it the color.
The other Zumthor project we visited was the Kolumba Museum in Cologne, Germany. This was truly a mesmerizing experience as I’ve studied the project in class multiple times, but finally had the opportunity to walk through itself. It was breathtaking. The project is built over a set of Roman ruins that is an archaeological site and integrates with ruins from WW2 bombing. A truly stunning building.
Some other projects we visited included Essen, a preserved coal mining site, the Cologne Cathedral, and the Ephilharmonie, a striking adaptive reuse project in Hamburg.
My thoughts in the middle of the trip: During this week I got my next major taste of culture shock when we left Amsterdam at 6 am and I woke up in Germany at 10 am. I entered a gas station still half waking up and realized that fewer things were in English, fewer people spoke English, and I had to pay to use the bathroom. I’ve since grown a little more accustomed to the newness, but have found myself yearning for “home” in the comfortability of Copenhagen.
Upcoming Highlights: My host family and I will watch the Denmark vs Gibraltar game on November 15. If Denmark wins, which they are heavily favored to do, Denmark will qualify for their group for the EUFA EURO 2020. Stay tuned for that story/cultural experience!