Nautical College

Prins Hendrikkade 192
W. Springer (vader) en J.L. Springer (zoon)
Vaderlandsch fonds ter aanmoediging van 's lands zeedienst
Bus 22, halte Kadijksplein

Boarding school for seafarers in the merchant navy and the navy

The nautical college the ‘Amsterdamse Kweekschool voor de Zeevaart’ was opened in 1785 out of dissatisfaction with the loss of the seventeenth-century national glory and the perceived laziness among young people, that was regarded as its cause. The school, with a boarding facility, was a private initiative, for which the city government provided a former West India Company warehouse on Prins Hendrikkade. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, father and son architects the Springers were engaged to design a new building, which opened with great fanfare in 1880.

The building is decidedly monumental. The façade on Prins Hendrikkade has a symmetrical and hierarchical structure, a projecting middle section and steep stepped gables. The building is in neo-Renaissance style, a reinterpretation of the Dutch Renaissance style of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, which in the nineteenth century was regarded as the national style par excellence. Characteristic features include the stepped gables, the horizontal bands of stone, round arches, columns and the richly ornamented façade. The ornamentation, which is partially nautical, gives expression to the character of the institute and emphasizes its eminence.

The building originally housed classrooms, offices, a dormitory, a dining room and an infirmary, a kitchen and a tailor’s (students wore school uniform). The building also contained accommodation for the warehouse manager, boatswain, first and second mate and for the ‘commodore’ – the headmaster. In the projecting middle section, on the second floor, was a ‘commemorative room’ containing a large collection of portraits, busts and ship models, as an edifying reminder of the country’s glorious nautical past. In the courtyard there was a complete sailing ship, which served as teaching material.

Since 2003, the building has been used by training institutes affiliated with the University of Amsterdam. It also houses offices and a café. (DW/ARCAM)