De Oostvaarders: dynamic profiles by the lake

De Oostvaarders stands in a nature reserve against a dike at the water’s edge. This nature education centre presents strikingly different profiles from different sides. Seen from the car park it stands vertically, with a tall opening to invite you in. From the side it reaches out over the water in a dramatic diagonal line. And seen from the lake, the horizontal shape connects with the water and the dike. There is a beautiful view across the lake from the first floor. The building was made in prefab sections to minimise the building time and the impact on the natural environment.

Natuurbelevingcentrum de Oostvaarders

Architects: Drost + van Veen architects, 2009
Oostvaardersbosplaats 1, Almere

The Wave: a reminder of the sea

It’s not so long since Almere was underneath the Zuiderzee, hence the ocean reference in this distinctive apartment block. The seven-storey building starts as a rectangular block at one end, but the front heaves outwards at the other end in the shape of a wave, as if the building itself is moving. The outside is covered in layered aluminium sheets, in a grey-green that echoes the colour of the adjacent Weerwater lake. Architect René van Zuuk also designed the striking ARCAM centre for architecture in Amsterdam.

The Wave Almere CC BY 2.0 halley and peter via Flickr

Architect: René van Zuuk, 2004
Hengelostraat, Almere

De Kunstlinie: a theatre over the water

The Kunstlinie theatre juts out over the Weerwater lake in a dramatic horizontal slice, like a diving board. Rising out of the 100-metre square slab that forms the base are three blocks, which house the theatre and art centre. The glass facades reflect the water and fill the building with light. Despite the austere, blocky shapes, the combination of materials and the suspended base create a sense of lightness.

Did you know?

The building contractor needed to make some modifications to the Japanese architecture: the design was based on Japanese body size, so everything had to be scaled up to suit tall Dutch physiques!

Schouwburg Almere

Architects: Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA), 2007 
Esplanade 10, Almere

Mirror House: an invisible building

Most architects are only too happy for people to admire their work, but this house is hiding in plain sight. The outside is made entirely of mirrored windows, which reflect the landscape so the house blends into its surroundings. This private house is a simple box, but the reflections create shape, movement and depth. Swedish architect Johan Selbing and Swiss landscape architect Anouk Vogel were among the winning entrants in a competition for an experimental housing development. The brief was to create a building that would interact with a woodland location.

Mirror House Almere Jeroen Musch via Archdaily.com

Architects: Johan Selbing, Anouk Vogel, 2013
De Eenvoud, Almere

Eilandenbuurt: a square kilometre of surprises

You can cross the residential neighbourhood of the Eilandenbuurt on foot in 15 minutes, but it’s packed with architectural variety, colour and interest. In 1997, architect Carel Weeber came up with the concept of ‘wild housing’, a reaction against overregulated home-building. For this project to mark Almere’s 25th anniversary in 2001, he added a new dimension in one syllable: ‘wild’ became ‘gewild’, or ‘desirable’. In an experimental neighbourhood, homeowners could adapt their new homes to suit their own wishes. A jury picked plans based on innovativeness and adaptability. Among the most distinctive buildings are the ‘cat’s back houses’ on Jamaicastraat, with their arched roofs. The owners could determine the length of the houses themselves, so some have back terraces while others stretch out over the canal.

Eilandenbuurt Almere I amsterdam

Various architects, 2001
Eilandenbuurt, Almere Buiten