The massive Delft tile mural in the Cuyperspassage tunnel in Amsterdam will certainly get a lot of admirers. Benthem Crouwel Architects states that the tunnel sees cyclist and pedestrian traffic 24 hours a day, as many as 15,000 cyclists pass through the tunnel. The “slow traffic” tunnel is located at a central part of Amsterdam and connects the city to a nearby river, the studio told ArchDaily.
The 110-meter long tunnel uses nearly 80,000 glazed Delft tiles to create a mural of warships, though the architecture office said that this actually has a comforting effect for pedestrians, not a militant one (more on that in a moment). Looking into the tunnel entrance, the tiles create an almost 3D effect of looking at a cresting wave. It’s just one of the visual effects at work in the tableau. The ship’s crest also appears to pop out of the wall as you walk past. The architects called the tile work a “Dutch spectacle.”
The tableau was designed by Irma Boom Office, inspired by the work of Rotterdam tile painter Cornelis Boumeester (1652-1733). It depicts the Warship Rotterdam and the Herring Fleet. The original is in the collection of the nearby Rijksmuseum. Boom’s studio replaced the original coat of arms on the warship with Amsterdam’s coat of arms, fitting since the tunnel connects “old” and “new” sections of the city. The tiles were produced by Royal Tichelaar Makkum over the course of half a decade.
The scene fades into watery blue and then white as traffic approaches the river. It builds back up into blue again just before the tunnel ends. The studio states that this was a choice to encourage cyclists to slow down as the ferry comes into view.
We said earlier that the tableau was intended to be comforting, even though it depicts a warship and angry ocean waters. The architects said the piece recalls the art adorning old kitchens in many Amsterdam canal houses. As such, the tunnel evokes the safety and comfort of a hearth. The studio said the intended effect of the tunnel was to be an “urban room.”
What do you think of this pedestrian walkway rendered in contemporary ceramics? Let us know in the comments.
5 thoughts on "Architecture | A Blue and White Warship Protects Amsterdam’s Pedestrians and Cyclists"
On my next trip to Amsterdam, I look forward to walking through this engaging space that transforms a potentially unpleasant transportation experience into a visual adventure, merging Delft ceramic tradition with a contemporary Dutch sense of architecture and design.
wow! This is wonderful!
Thank you for this article. I love Holland and I am sorry I didn’t see this when I was there. It is true that American cities do not place as much value on public art as European ones. The first time I went to Europe I was blown away by the visual experience. I am really enjoying C-file, it is a great source of interest and inspiration.
It is a visceral relief to realize that such uncommon beauty has been created for the “Public”.
The ugliness of general public space in urban America made me physically ill when I first stepped into it. Now I avoid it.
Thank U for your work “cfile”.
Writing for CFile taught me that other countries get all the cool stuff.