Misplaced architecture is a guide to modern architecture in Amsterdam that does not observe the unwritten rule of respectful modesty that is expected in the inner city area. The selected projects, dating from the late 1950s to the early 1980s, offer a glimpse of an alternative reading of the Dutch capital, as something other than the neat, untouchable, prettified historical monument that Amsterdam is for many people – a place, therefore, where modern architecture is inappropriate.
The book was conceived when the Unesco World Heritage designation for the ring of canals was still pending. It has since been confirmed, making the projects in this guide even more exceptional because nowadays it is less likely that a comparable uncompromising modernity would have any chance of being built in an historical centre that is increasingly falling victim to the Venice syndrome of stagnation.
Not every project in this guide would be an exemplary model for contemporary interventions in the existing urban fabric. Some of the projects are real jewels, a few are rough diamonds, but most are included for the simple reason that they are so obviously different from their surroundings that they suggest a different kind of urbanity, one that does not fit Amsterdam, or rather the romantic image of the city’s Golden Age glory, nearly four centuries ago.
Even during the compilation of the material for this guide, more than one project that would otherwise have been included was torn down or drastically transformed, underlining how those modern buildings and complexes are commonly perceived as anachronistic interlopers in the urban fabric. The preparation of this guide stalled at one point. Nearly a decade later, hardly enough of the misplaced architecture that was the subject of the guide remains to make a book about this short-lived period when it was possible to envision Amsterdam as a different kind of city. Which, ultimately, it will never be.
(Preface to the unpublished Misplaced Amsterdam: an architectural guide, 1960-1980)