For most of us school begins next week after Labor Day weekend. For some of us, that means we'll spend the next week grasping onto the waning days of summer in a futile attempt to delay school's start and the hours basking in the eerie glow of a computer monitor. You could head to the beach to work on your tan on stretches of sand so crowded you can leave your towel at home--why not just lie on top of one of the millions of strangers littered across the beach? Maybe there's an alternative: save the beach for the second weekend of school (neither school nor the beach is so busy) and take the next week partaking in that age old architecture student past time: Architourism!
In 2005 Prestel Publishing released Architourism: Authentic, Escapist, Exotic, Spectacular, a “cure for the average tourbook” edited by Joan Ockman, Director of the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at the GSAPP and Salomon Frausto, currently Head of the Architectural Broadcasting Program at The Berlage Institute. Admittedly, I haven’t read it. However, a friend of mine at YSOA recently turned me onto an alternative, www.mimoa.eu , a great website that allowed me to save $30 and, according to the site’s description, search “the world’s modern architecture, mapped and waiting to be discovered by [me].”
During my last weekend in Rotterdam, around the time I completely gave up at my internship at OMA*AMO, my friend Zach and I hit the road to see the best modern architecture The Netherlands has to offer with MIMOA as our guide. How does it work? You type in a city someplace in the world—generally, Europe is better documented—and a list of buildings pops up next to a linked Google map. Each building in the city and surrounding area has a thumbnail photo, description including architect or firm, and a rank out of five stars (presumably, all user-submitted) to help you decide what’s worth seeing, what’s a hidden gem and what’s hidden for a reason.
We may have just been lucky with our choices or maybe Holland is exceptionally archi-rich, but our weekend road trip was filled with many more hits than misses. What’s missing from the description of each building is its often backwoods location: beautiful architecture apparently lives in obscure corners of suburbia. Despite the way-off-the-beaten-track searching (walking through people’s backyards) I think there’s something to this wiki/opensource approach to Architourism. More often than not, the ratings on MIMOA jived with my own response. And if you’re interested in analyzing Dutch architecture only through the built work of Wim Quist, J.J.P. Oud and Neutelings, MIMOA is the easiest resource for you to plan such a madcap tour through the country.
If you want the names of any of these buildings in my pictures or the name of the architect--all found using MIMOA's searches and maps--write me a comment. Or, test out MIMOA. (a hint: they're scattered throughout Holland in Rotterdam, Groeningen, Breda & Utrecht.