The canals of Amsterdam

George Brandon, design assistant at Ryder, discusses Team Callen’s recent team trip to Amsterdam.  The trip included a visit to Ryder’s newest office, which opened in the Dutch capital in February this year.

Coinciding with the opening of Ryder’s new Amsterdam office, this year’s Team Callen trip offered the perfect opportunity to visit the Dutch capital, as well as the chance to view the inspiring residential and commercial buildings that the Netherlands is architecturally renowned for.  With an itinerary in place, and a series of pre trip lunchtime Dutch lessons by our own colleague/chaperone Dimitrios Papatheodorou, we were ready to go.

Dimitrios teaching the team some Dutch
Dimitrios teaching the team some Dutch

After a very early start, we wasted no time beginning our journey around the city, starting with the breakfast in the neighbourhood of Haarlemmerbuurt, which stretches out to the west of Central Station and is renowned for its shopping boutiques and eateries.  The first architectural stop in this area was along the Westerdok, where a collection of imposing buildings overlooks the waterfront, including the Amsterdam Gerechtshof, or Court of Justice.  The deceptively cold weather gave us a reason to try out a number of the small quaint bars and cafes tucked away among the iconic gabled houses and flower-decked canals during the afternoon.

Our accommodation, to the immediate north of Amsterdam central via the free, and very reliable, river crossing ferry, proved to be a great choice. In what was once a 1920s laboratory, the repurposed hostel offered a cafe, bar and an assortment of social spaces for us to enjoy before heading out for the evening.  The highlight was undoubtedly the UV ping pong room, unsurprisingly much more difficult in the dark after a few Dutch beers.

Gerechtshof / UV Ping Pong
Gerechtshof / UV Ping Pong

The evening was spent in De Hallen, a former tram depot that has recently been refurbished into a vibrant centre for fashion, art and culture.  The complex is also home to the magnificent Foodhallen - a classy indoor food market lined with stalls of high end multicultural street food.  Whilst being a little out of town, the market is a hotspot for locals, evident by the 40 minute queue at the hot dog stall (It was worth it).

The second day gave us the opportunity to continue our exploration of the city, but this time on two wheels.  We were lucky enough to have our own personal tour guide – a good friend of Ryder partner, Gareth Callen.  So, with our bikes hired, and our bodies fuelled by Dutch fries and Bitterballen (the bite size beef and gravy croquettes / a northerner’s dream), we were set.  Starting from our hostel, we continued along the north of the River IJ, through the increasingly developing areas of Overhoeks and Buiksloterham.  A pit stop at Pllek was a welcomed break, with the reused shipping container restaurant offering glorious views across the water.

The team on their bike ride and their cycle route
The team on their bike ride and their cycle route

Pllek
Pllek

A short boat ride back to the south of the river took us past Pontsteiger, a spectacular building in Houthaven, which is another upcoming neighbourhood in the city and home to an eclectic mix of office buildings for Amsterdam’s growing amount of small start up companies.  From there, we passed through Zaandammerplein, an area of houses accommodated within sealed blocks around a communal inner garden, historically intended for the poorest of workers in the city.  A leisurely cycle around the beautiful Westerpark saw James Stockdale fall victim to the inevitable puncture and signalled a good time to head back in preparation for the evening.

For our evening meal, the team tackled an amazing 30 course Indonesian feast.  Amsterdam has an array of authentic Indonesian restaurants, due to the country being a former colony of the Netherlands.  Most of the night was spent walking off this meal whilst getting lost among the unending streets and canals. The final morning saw us head along the Eastern Docklands to the NEMO Science Museum.  The rooftop garden and cafe offered unrivalled views across the city, along with the best Dutch apple pies - a perfect end to our weekend in Amsterdam.

Pontsteiger
Pontsteiger
The team enjoying their Indonesian meal
The team enjoying their Indonesian meal

Our international office background and multiple contacts within the Netherlands gave us a much deeper experience of this city, and the chance to visit areas not on a typical tourist’s itinerary.  The trip gave us the opportunity to view contemporary architectural precedents beneficial for current and future projects, but most importantly, allowed the team to bond and have a great time.  Thank you, Ryder, for this opportunity.