Walk Amsterdam’s Architecture in Oostelijk Havengebied
This route through the Oostelijk Havengebied (the Eastern Docklands), shows off some of the finest and quirkiest of Amsterdam’s architectural landmarks: the perfect place to see Dutch urban design come to life. The area’s been in a state of rapid change since it’s initial construction in the 19th century. Disuse in the 1970s led to many of the buildings in the docklands being destroyed, but thankfully, as artists and squatters moved in, many of the iconic spaces were saved. In the 1990s, the city of Amsterdam massively regenerated the area for residential use. The resulting delightfully vibrant collection of old and new buildings along the waterfront with intriguing architectural stories are just waiting for us to explore!
Enjoy your walk!
📐 Distance: 6km
⏱️ Total Walking Time: 60 min
🧭 Directions: Hit this link, then click the top right corner of the map to open full screen in Google Maps
FYI: the technology behind Google Maps is sometimes a bit shaky, so sometimes you need to click the link more than once, or zoom in to get the route view. Apologies for the inconvenience.
☕ Best Roast en Route: Barmhartig Koffie
This may look like an unlikely spot for the nice cafe you’re craving, but the climb up the concrete tower is well worth it. Trust us! At the top of the second floor you’ll find Barmhartig Koffie, a trendy, light, laid-back cafe with coffee to die for and enjoy looking out over the stunning view of the harbor. They roast their own coffee here, which accounts for the scent of delicious flavors in the air! You can also enjoy your coffee down by the waterside. But how could you pass up this view?!
Highlight A: Hotel Jakarta
Stroll along Java Eiland to Hotel Jakarta, a sustainable 4* hotel. The hotel’s name is a reminder of its historic location, which marks the spot from which ships used to leave for Jakarta. Java Eiland was constructed at the end of the 19th century, and from 1910-1970 was home to the Netherlands Steamship company. Picture vast ocean liners moving off from the dock right here, to the Dutch East Indies, transporting everything from mail and goods, to passengers. Five inner gardens were developed in the 1990s on Java eiland, and the last is the lush green, jungle-like center of the hotel. Top tip: the Sky bar at the top if open to everyone! Head up for impressive panoramic views over the IJ.
Highlight B: Pakhuis de Zwijger
Across the water from Jakarta hotel is Pakhuis de Zwijger, a warehouse which in 2006 was repurposed as a space for cultural organisations to flourish. Today it hosts networking events, exhibitions, lectures and workshops! The original warehouse was declared a national monument, and so the initial plans for a bridge in its place were rejected. The solution? Build the bridge right through the middle! Genius.
Highlight C: Lloyd Hotel
The pretty spectacular Lloyd Hotel has a fascinating history. Built in 1921 by the Royal Holland Lloyd shipping company, the building was first used as a migrant hotel. It later became a prison, before it was reinstated as a hotel in 2004. To open up an interior once used to house a rather different kind of guest, Dutch architects MVRDV carved a great space through the building, opening up a light, communal space that feels less…well, like a prison! Each of the 120 rooms are unique: varying in design, size and prize, and ranging from one to five stars. The hotel is also known for its Cultural Embassy, which links guests with networks of artists in Amsterdam. Mention MVRDV in the booking and you just might get a sweet deal on a room of your choice!
Highlight D: Scheepstimmermanstraat
Welcome to your first port of call: Scheepstimmermanstraat, which translates as ship carpenter’s street. In case you haven’t already noticed, the buildings on this row of 60 houses are totally unique from one another. The street’s residents were free to hire their own architect to design their dream houses on the waterfront, resulting in quite a mixed portfolio of Dutch architecture! Each house has a more closed aesthetic towards the front, but their backs open out onto the water. Some of the notable architects include Hertzberger, who designed no.126, Hohne & Rapp (no.62) and MVRDV (no.26 and 40). Make sure you check out our favorite at number 120, a house designed by Van Velsen. It’s built around a magnificent 10 meter acacia tree, which reaches from the ground floor up to the glass roof! Your houseplants seem pretty tiny now right?
Highlight E: Pythonbrug
Amsterdam is a city of bridges: it’s oldest dates back to 1648. The Pythonbrug, built in 2001, has got to be one of it’s most impressive. Designed by West8, the python bridge snakes across the 93m stretch of water, connecting Borneo and Sporenburg islands with a footbridge and cycle path. It’s hardly surprising that it’s bright red sculptural frames won the 2002 Footbridge award! It’s height (9.5m to be exact) allows boats to pass through into the harbor.
Highlight F: De Steltloper
In the neighborhood of Sporenburg, the Steltloper residential tower is a bit like the famous British spread, Marmite: you either love it or you hate it! De Steltloper, or ‘the stilt walker’, owes its name to its design, as it stands partly in the water, and partly on long, stilt-like legs. The tower block is an example of the regeneration of the Eastern Docklands, and its view over the IJ makes it a very popular living space. Would you want a room on its 18th floor?
Highlight G: The Whale
This building is one you’ve probably noticed before! The Whale was built in 2000: its sloping roof line, scale-like zinc facade and waterside location hint at the origins of its fish-related name. Clearly its size was also a factor when naming it The Whale! Two-thirds of the apartments inside are social housing, and the Whale has an inner garden courtyard which is just about visible from street level. The Whale has become a real landmark, forming part of Amsterdam’s recognizable sky-line, especially from the sky!
Highlight H: Loods 6
On KNSM Island lies Loods 6, a quayside warehouse which was the former departure and arrival hall of the renowned Koninklijke Nederlandsche Scheepvaart Maatschappij. Loods 6 is another of the Eastern docklands’ architectural gems. Strikingly restored, the warehouse now houses a plethora of creative companies and innovators, and includes gallery spaces, shops, exhibitions and artist’s studios.
Your Fav Hidden Gems
The above highlights are just some of our favorite spots along the way. If something catches your eye while en route, share a picture with us so we can share with the group next week. Email is the best.
Interested in more Walks?
Explore the city via short, curated routes brought to you by our professional tour guides of Amsterdam Experiences. Receive a new route in Amsterdam every week into your inbox.