Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring in Den Haag

A trip to The Hague in spring sunshine showed off the crocus in the best possible light. De Bijenkorf building is so much more visible now there is only bicycle traffic on Grote Markstraat - its very beautiful. And a Chinese gate leading to the street where Fat Kee is.
A bit about De Bijenkorf building:
De Bijenkorf is a chain of department stores in the Netherlands and one of its biggest three stores is this building on Grote Marktstraat in The Hague. Since the street became more or less pedestrianised, the building appears more visible as you can stand and look at it without being mown down by trams, buses and cars as used to be the case. Now you just need to keep off the red brick area down the centre where the cyclists hold sway.
The building (1926) was designed by Pieter Lodewijk Kramer (1881–1961), a Dutch architect who was one of the most important architects of the Amsterdam School. It has had two major renovations in 1962 and 1997. The Amsterdam School architects designed their buildings in ‘De Stijl’, the origins of which were related to Dutch architect Hendrikus Berlage and the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. They believed in intergrated design where exteriors and interiors were all designed in keeping with each other.
Inside De Bijenkorf building you can see the beautiful staircase with its carved banisters and panelling, as well as the stunning stained glass windows, which change as you progress up the staircase. These windows were designed for the building by P.A.H.Hofman, but I have not been able to discover much about him.
After the death of Pieter Lodewijk Kramer in 1961, no architectural institution or museum was interested in his Expressionist work. For that reason, all his drawings, blueprints and models were burnt. To me that seems a staggering mistake as he was one of the top architects of his time, nevermind that his style was not fashionable at the time of his death.