Architecture on the Dutch coast

Jeroen Apers, woensdag 15 mei 2013

Scheveningen has grown from a fishing village into the biggest seaside resort in Holland. Its boulevard was recently transformed from a simple sidewalk into a graceful promenade. It makes for some lovely Spanish-style strolling along the beach. Which is only natural, seeing that the promenade was designed by the Catalan architect Manuel De Solà-Morales. And while you are strolling, do take a look at the great little pavilions. ‘Fiets&Stal’ by artist John Körmeling, for instance, a bicycle repair shop that makes you think of a pre-war gas station. The Beelden aan Zee (Sculptures by the Sea) museum is another attraction. Although the word ‘museum’ conjures up images of an eye-catching building on the boulevard, this museum is hidden among the dunes below Koninklijke Paviljoen de Witte. It takes some effort to find it!

There are a few other architectural pearls to be enjoyed outside the cities, along the Dutch coast. Last year a lovely restaurant opened its doors on the dunes near Oostvoorne, close to the Rotterdam harbour. It is appropriately called Aan Zee (By the Sea) and is composed of sea containers. It doesn’t show because its graceful rounded forms blend in perfectly with the surroundings. It has become a hotspot for nature lovers and (kite) surfers, who like to relax by the fire or on the terrace after soaking up the fresh air.

Information centre Neeltje Jans, which tells you all about the Delta Works, built its fresh- and saltwater pavilions some twenty years ago. These structures - designed by Lars Spuybroek and Kas Oosterhuis – still look remarkably modern. This is not surprising, since they were far ahead of their time in terms of design. And still are, actually. These 'blobs' (binary large objects) were designed and built with the aid of computers. They look like a sea animal that is sprawled comfortably on shore. Inside you almost feel like Jonah in the whale, but don’t let that stop you from taking a look around.

Further into Zeeland, on the beach near Domburg, you can even spend the night in a hypermodern beach hut. Slaapzand rents out beautifully designed little houses directly by the sea from May to October. They offer wonderful views. You can walk from your bed straight into the sea. This must be the best way to wake up in summer.

Museum Beelden aan Zee, Harteveltstraat 1, The Hague
Restaurant Aan Zee, Strandweg 1, Oostvoorne
Deltapark Neeltje Jans, Faelweg 5, Vrouwenpolder
Slaapzand, Zuidstraat 19, Westkapelle