H.P. Berlage
Bouwmaatschappij Amsterdam-West en De Hoofdweg NV
Tram 7, 13
Martine Bakker, 'Het vertalen van Berlage', Blauwe Kamer, nr. 4 (augustus 1998), p.45-51; Maarten Kloos (red), Berlage in Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1992.
Leisure, Openbare ruimte, Voorziening, Wonen

Urban square in housing scheme

Mercatorplein is situated in Plan West (1922), the so-called ‘6000 woningenplan’ (6000 dwellings plan) for the area to the west of Admiralengracht. Various well-known Amsterdam School architects worked on this housing scheme, such as, for example, Staal, Wijdeveld and Kropholler. H.P. Berlage was commissioned to design Mercatorplein, with dwellings and shops, as the urbanistic centrepiece of the expansion plan.

Berlage placed the shops on the ground floor underneath arcades in order to minimize inconvenience to the residents of the dwellings above. The facades of the residential and retail blocks were executed in austere red brick with light granite bands. Access roads, Hoofdweg and Jan Evertsenstraat, determined the square’s asymmetrical ground plan. Gateway buildings, underneath which are roads, were built on two corners of the square. Moreover, Berlage placed towers, each of which is 35 metres high, on the northeast and southwest corners.

The towers are vertical accents alongside the horizontality of the residential blocks, as eye-catchers they emphasize the square’s form and they function as landmarks in the surrounding area. The north tower was demolished in 1961, but when the square was reorganized in 1997-1998, a reconstruction of Berlage’s tower was incorporated in the new wall. A parking garage was also built beneath the square, with a ‘dog-ear’ as the entrance, the square was remodelled once again and the buildings were restored and partially rebuilt. (ARCAM/DH)