Cruise Eastern Docklands

Cruise Eastern Docklands

Cruise Eastern Docklands

Duration: 1.5 hours Source: The Amsterdam sailing guideDownload this cruise< /strong> Back to all boat trips The Eastern Docklands of Amsterdam is one of the most successful metropolitan new construction projects after the war. Between the 1980s and now, the eastern part of the Amsterdam port has grown into a contemporary and international example of inner-city restructuring on the water. This cruise provides an overview of recent urban and architectural developments.

The route starts on the IJ north of Central Station.

The first course will be set for Java Island and, by extension, KNSM Island. Sporenburg Island and Borneo Island are then visited, after which the return journey finally takes you along the Oostelijke Handelskade. The Eastern Docklands have a relatively short history. The (peninsula) islands were constructed over a period of 50 years from 1874, following the construction of the North Sea Canal and the closure of the IJ from the Zuiderzee.  Cruise Eastern DocklandsThe port of Amsterdam needed to be expanded because sea-going vessels were becoming increasingly larger. At the same time, the existing ports had become difficult to reach due to the construction of railway lines to and from Central Station. The main users of the new port area were large shipping companies such as the Royal Dutch Shipping Company. The KNSM maintained scheduled services by boat between the island of the same name and Indonesia. Originally, the islands were equipped with elongated warehouses and railways. In retrospect, the expansion of the Amsterdam port on the east side of the city was an unfortunate choice. With the rise of even larger ships and the disappearance of most scheduled services, due to increased competition from air transport, the islands lost their function. The port activities were moved to the much more practically located Western Port Area. In 1975, the municipal council decided to give the Eastern Docklands a residential destination. The abattoir and the cattle market area were the first to be tackled in the 1980s. All existing buildings, with the exception of the chalet-style gatehouses, were demolished and replaced by social housing and commercial buildings. The conversion of the Monday to Sunday warehouses into owner-occupied apartments was the final part of this phase. The only business in the warehouses that was maintained was a wine wholesaler. (This company has now had to make way for a large trendy catering business, the Harbor Club). In the same period, it was also decided to keep the harbor basins open as part of the public space in the new residential areas to be built. Since 1989, the KNSM, Java and Borneo Island and Sporenburg have been successively developed.

We leave from Central Station in an easterly direction. We keep to the southern bank of the IJ.

We sail towards the new Music Building, Amsterdam’s new cultural hotspot. Located on the famous IJ, this sober building is an asset to the city. This architectural masterpiece has excellent acoustics. The building has two beautiful concert halls where various (classical) musicians, ensembles and orchestras give concerts. In addition to the concert halls, there are also three rehearsal rooms, the Bimhuis (for jazz lovers), the sound playground (for the children) and a café. And of course one of the most beautiful terraces in Amsterdam.  Cruise Eastern DocklandsSailing in an easterly direction, the head of Java Island looms like a huge ship. The buildings of eight to ten floors are in stark contrast to the linear plain of quays and water. The IJ opens up to the left of the head, with the Oranjesluis in the distance that provide access to IJburg.

We keep the head of Java Island on the port side and headto the middle of the Jan Schaeffer Bridge.

This bridge, designed by architect Ton Venhoeven, is the winning result of a competition. The landing in the Zwijger warehouse is striking, which has been structurally reinforced for the occasion. An important part of the bridge’s design is lighting. The combination of light from the pillars, the bridge deck and from the side creates a certain mysticism in the evening. As an added feature, the bridge has a removable center section. As a result, the problem of limited headroom can be resolved during, for example, the Sail, the five-yearly event (2015) in and around the IJ harbour. On our port side we now see the southern quay of Java Island. The owner-occupied apartments are located here, relaxing in the sun, side by side with the IJ harbour. Java Island was designed by Amsterdammer Sjoerd Soeters. Soeters’ urban development plan is based on the Amsterdam canals. The varying facades and the landing stairs testify to this. The buildings were developed by different architects, each of whom was allocated a plot of 5 bays or 27 meters. The underlying parking garage determined the house size, which is always a multiple of 5.40 m; a size in which exactly two cars can be parked. We sail a short distance into the second canal on the port side, the Lamonggracht. This is virtually identical to the first, the Brantasgracht. Given the tight passage, the canal at the IJ has been closed. So we cannot continue sailing. The fact that Soeters tried to create a modern copy of the Amsterdam city center on Java Island becomes even clearer with the four canals that cross Java Island. The quays rise considerably at the location of crossing bridges. The arched bridges typical of the Amsterdam city center reinforce this effect even more. An additional advantage is of course that the construction of these canals has created highly sought-after canal houses.  Cruise Eastern DocklandsThe buildings on the quay have been designed as individual houses by nineteen different architects. The comfort of a dry cellar has had to make way for the aesthetic ideal of a low quay. A number of houses have therefore been equipped with pumps as a preventive measure. The inhospitable nature of the north side of the island contrasts with the sun-drenched south side. Another contrast is that the north side, unlike the south side, consists largely of social housing. On the other side of the IJ, the green banks of Noord appeal to the underlying waterland, worth a boat trip in itself. The Akzo factory in Noord is always in operation and creates a surreal glow at night. We pass the Seranggracht. This last canal of Java Island is in principle identical to the others, except that it is flanked by more modest buildings. The bridges in the canals are inspired by Venetian examples. Soeters mixes periods and countries like a DJ. The link between Java and KNSM Island is made architecturally by the warm red buildings Hoogkade and Hoogwerf by the Swiss architectural duo Diener & Servant. Hoogkade, on the Java side of the bridge to the mainland, stands with its feet in the water, making the block look extra massive. This heaviness is counteracted by the relatively large windows that vary by half a stone from bottom to top. The colossal building, which was built entirely within the building line of the KNSM Island, is not admired by everyone.

We sail under the bridge of the connecting dam and see KNSM Island on our port side.

KNSM Island is the first of the Eastern Islands to be redeveloped. The urban development plan was drawn up by Jo Coenen. His work has been characterized as a ‘friendly monumentalism. Within Dutch architecture he acts as an advocate for more historical awareness, more depth and a greater sense of continuity. Based on a central central axis with buildings on either side, Coenen’s design for the KNSM island can be called classic. Coenen’s master plan is dominated by large building volumes and horizontal lines. In contrast to the later developed Java Island, the buildings on KNSM Island are grand and compelling. Hoogwerf, the little brother of the Hoogkade on the east side of the connecting dam, is flanked by a row of former authentic port buildings. Shed 1, the first shed after the connecting dam, was originally four times as long. Until the Second World War, this space was used to store wine and household goods that were shipped to Indonesia. Shortly after the war, NSB members and their families were detained in the warehouse. Today the warehouse is used by the Levant Foundation. This foundation offers private individuals the opportunity to restore their classic ships. Sometimes on a sunny day, when the doors are open, it is possible to peek inside to see the beautiful restoration projects. One of the more beautiful buildings of the 1990s looms on the port side. Piraeus, with its beautiful lines and highly detailed design, is one of the most successful designs in the Eastern Islands according to enthusiasts. The building, designed by Messrs Kolhoff and Rapp, is folded inwards at the site of the old administration office of the KNSM. Integration of this harbor office into the design has created two beautiful courtyards that are accessible to the public. It is definitely worth a visit to Piraeus-based Kanis and Meiland. This café has a beautiful terrace with good mooring options. A hundred meters further on, on the port side we see a terrace sloping towards the water with several beautiful studios on legs on the square. This former canteen of the KNSM was sold in parts to various artists in the early 1980s for one guilder each. The fact that artists can also become rich during their lifetime is supported by the fact that one of the last studios was sold for 499,999.00 euros more than the initial acquisition price. The beauty of the Piraeus building is enhanced by the formal appearance of the adjacent building designed by Bruno Albert. This much-visited building has a special wrought-iron fence at the southern entrance. Once arrived at the head of the island, Coenen shows how he designs a building himself. The Emerald Empire was not one of his best works. Despite the disappointing appearance, the apartments in this building are very popular – partly due to the fantastic view.

We sail starboard towards the head of Sporenburg.

The last two islands on this tour were designed in one movement by Rotterdammer Adriaan Geuze of West 8 Landscape Architects. The interpretation of the water as a front garden has enabled him to realize a large number of homes with a front door on the street, despite the required density of 100 homes per hectare. In addition to patios, which provide light in the homes, he introduces ‘meteorites’ in some places as a trick to make the islands special. These large apartment buildings tower above the other buildings in iconic places.

We pass the head of Sporenburg.

The Piet Hein Tunnel is located underwater between Borneo and Sporenburg. This becomes visible in the armpit of both islands, where the ventilation building is located, designed by Van Berkel and Bos. The basin between the islands is covered by two bridges, which were also designed by West 8. The highest bridge in particular with its sloping shape offers a beautiful view over the islands. However, the finish of the bridge, especially the bending of the steel, leaves something to be desired. The most attractive homes are located at the heads of the islands, overlooking ‘open’ water. At Sporenburg these are designs by Neutelings, Claus en Kaan, Ruimtelab and Van Berkel en Bos. On Borneo, the first head is particularly interesting, designed by the architects Mastenbroek and Van Gameren, both from the Architectengroep. The hanging, colored aquariums form the natural backdrop for contemporary advertising.

Halfway to the head of Borneo Island we enter the port on the starboard side.

The starboard quay of this basin is furnished with privately developed homes. Wealthy owners could build here according to their own taste by selecting their own architect. The result is a stunning variation in floor plans and facades. Within the limited surface area, space has often been found for parking, sometimes even in two layers. Moreover, it is interesting to see how the different designs connect to the water. At the end of the basin we are forced to turn back. Once back on clear water, it is possible to sail a little further, south of Borneo. The previously described warehouses are located here Monday to Sunday. However, we sail back in the direction of the IJ harbour, where this time we keep to the southern bank of the IJ. On the southern bank of the IJ harbor we now sail along the northern edge of Sporenburg. We pass The Whale building, a glittering building block in the shape of a wobbly. The design by Frits van Dongen of the Architectencie is particularly interesting because of its access structure of stairs in the inner area. There are several beautiful loft apartments under the rising roof.

We pass the connecting dam again.

On the port side, the Oostelijke Handelskade, we now see a white tower and the Brazil shopping center. Both buildings were designed by Neutelings. The first building is typical of his work due to the cuts in the facade. The second building, the former cocoa and coffee warehouse of Koninklijke Lloyd, has been completely demolished and rebuilt. The original steel trusses were reused in the new construction. These have remained visible in the current interior. A parking garage has been created over the entire length of both buildings. Past the coffee shed we see the Lloyd Hotel between the buildings. At the beginning of the last century, the Lloyd Hotel was opened to temporarily house emigrants from the Eastern Bloc countries on their passage by boat to the promised land of America. The building was built just before the heyday of the Amsterdam School. The decorative brickwork is characteristic of the architectural style, which is also called eclectic. After being used as a youth prison for a while, the Lloyd building has been a hotel again since the summer of 2004. The hotel guests have a lot more luxury than their predecessors. The 120 rooms are all comfortable and all different from each other. Early in the morning of Tuesday, February 25, 1941, the most extensive strike in the history of the Netherlands broke out. Dutch people protested en masse against the persecution of Jews by the German occupiers. The February strike was a fact. The organisers, almost all communists, were violently arrested by the SS a few days later and imprisoned in the Lloyd. Since Lloyd had not previously been used as a prison, there were no bars. Exhausting and mistreating the prisoners proved to be the ultimate means of keeping the convicts within the walls. After the war, the Lloyd was finally given its prison function. However, facilities such as a sports hall were lacking. The large communal areas also did not make maintaining order easy. The guards themselves sat in a barred cage in the center of the main hall. Until the mid-1960s, the Lloyd Hotel didn’t really lock up sweethearts.

We pass the Jan Schaefer Bridge again.

The Oostelijke Handelskade has been completely built up in recent years. The quay is a nice mix of old and new buildings. Here you will find residential buildings, offices and cultural facilities. The passenger terminal attracts dozens of cruise ships every year, the passengers of which are eager to spend their money in Amsterdam.

We have arrived back at Central Station.

This marks the end of the cruise past the projects that have given Amsterdam a new face on the water for the first time since the construction of Central Station. After the success of the Eastern Docklands, a large number of projects were started on the IJ. In addition to IJburg, these include the timber ports in the Western Port Area and recently the development of the northern IJ bank. Interesting developments for architecture and sailing enthusiasts!  Download this cruise Back to all cruises