Enter Off Limit Buildings During the Dag van de ArchitectuurHeather Tucker, Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Behind the scenes tours - we love them. Or at least I do. Which is why on June 23rd, I was standing in the reception area of the NRC Handelsblad, one of the main newspapers in the Netherlands, waiting for my guided tour of the building.
It isn’t everyday that you can tour the NRC. Visit the restaurant or browse the bookshop - yes, but wander around amongst the desks - no. But the newspaper was one of the buildings open for the Dag van de Architectuur (Day of the Architecture). In Amsterdam alone, more than 40 buildings opened their doors to visitors. Some really were an opportunity to peek behind the screen - such as the NRC, the six houses that look like the delft-blue KLM house souvenirs and the MTV studios. Others were a little less exciting since they could easily be accessed on normal days - like the Stedelijk Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the EYE Film Institute.
There are a few things you need to keep in mind if you decide to take advantage of the annual event:
1. Different cities participate on different days. Rotterdam’s day of architecture, for example, was on June 21st and June 22nd. Amsterdam was on the 23rd. So it is always a good idea to check the specific city you are interested in, otherwise you are likely to appear in front of closed doors.
2. Many locations only allow access as part of a guided tour. Some of the tours you can sign-up to on the day at the location itself. Others you need to book in advance (see point 3).
3.There are some locations where the guided tour must be booked in advance via the website. These tours are often few in number and can fill quickly. So do plan ahead.
4. Buying your ticket online before the event in Amsterdam was cheaper but you still needed to visit one of the locations mentioned on the ticket, to pick up your wristband, which provided you with access to the other venues. For other cities it is best to check their specific website for arrangements.
5. Tours are usually in Dutch but since they are kept small it might be possible to ask for a quick summary at the end.
Inside the NRC building we had the opportunity to watch a video showing the refurbishment before heading deep into the halls of office desks, stacks of papers and brainstorming charts. We stood on the main floor where proof pages of the paper are displayed to find any potential layout errors and we even saw the large gong that is rung when the paper is completed each day.
Being a Sunday there were few people in the office and one can only imagine what it would be like when approximately 300 workers are all rushing around. But even without the buzz of the employees it was a visit I won’t be quick to forget.