6 Projects Showcasing the Dutch Obsession With Brick

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Brick has a long and rich history in the Netherlands. As the story goes, the common image of Dutch architecture between both world wars was defined by the modern, functionalist designs of the Nieuwe Bouwen movement. The glass and concrete structures that arose from new pragmatism were thought to have thoroughly dethroned the traditional brick architecture of Berlage, Kropholler, and the Amsterdam School. Fortunately though, brick architecture continued to develop alongside modernism, even for experimental construction.

Today the relationship between brick and the Dutch holds strong. Architects from the region still favor brick as a construction material in both traditional and experimental projects. Whether forming unexpected façade motifs to create visual consistency across multi-use structures or aesthetically link multicultural institutions, contemporary Netherlandish brick façades remain as the expressively strong tie between the region’s past, present, and future. The set of brick-and-mortar below shows how brick was — and still is — a popular building material in both traditional and experimental projects. Finding inspiration from Phaidon’s monograph Brick surveying the use of this timeless material, we’ve put together the best of brick buildings in the Netherlands.

Fusion ‘Multi-User Mosque’ Amsterdam by Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Housing a Turkish and Moroccan center with a Dutch institution under one roof, this multifunctional building unusually accommodates all three cultural sensibilities by blending Arabic architectural styles and the surrounding Amsterdam vernacular with geometric brickwork motifs. The hybrid exterior wraps the interior spaces — offices, two prayer halls, and shared course classrooms — all joined by a single four-story-high central staircase.

Block A Noordstrook by Dick van Gameren, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Located on the first of three new blocks of building development in the Amsterdam district of Slotervaart, this large-scale renovation for the first new block of buildings contains: 170 social council dwellings, a day activity center, business spaces that will replace the original building, and three strips of housing. The exterior nods to the local vernacular brick assembly technique with large prefab concrete façade panels containing different brickwork patterns, which attempt to break with the monotonous, repetitive appearance of traditional prefab façades.

brick dutch

dutch brick

Duikklok Tilburg by Bedaux de Brouwer Architecten, Tilburg, The Netherlands

This striking cylindrical apartment block is outfitted with huge, contemporary bay windows and contains a spiral staircase that connects both apartments with a shared lobby and garage on the ground floor. With a skin of dark glazed bricks, a distinctive brick-laying technique makes the masonry appear textile-like, exaggerating the twisty-turvy form of the amassing edifice.

Fort Cortina by Karelse & den Besten, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The headquarters for this wholesale company were built on the premises of a former shipping building and repair company, where the industrial environment was converted into the office and warehouse building. Drawing its form from a spacious Moroccan fort, the brick and metallized brick creates a dynamic exterior skin around the mindful composition of spaces in different geometric apertures.

Netherlands Open Air Museum by Mecanoo, Arnhem, The Netherlands

Picturesquely situated along a rolling forested landscape, the entrance pavilion and indoor exhibition space were designed to make visits to the open-air museum suited to all weather conditions. Using the landscape as the starting point for the design, the exterior wall constructed from stones and brick masonry cuts through the landscape.

The Amsterdam Symphony by de Architekten Cie., Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Standing nearly 500 feet high, this project is comprised of a residential tower and additional tower that houses the offices, a hotel, and an underground parking garage. Featuring a synthesis of different brickwork, the unity of the towers is expressed in a stack of mortared patterns, which produce a layered appearance.

To see more of the best brick buildings from around the world, check out Phaidon’s book Brick.

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