Not knowing exactly what I was looking for, I initially struggled to find my SWEETS room for the evening. That is until I realized the large, extremely obvious UFO-like structure, located in Amsterdam’s Kortjewantsbrug-area, a short walk from central station, was what I was looking for. Once a former bridge house, only a week before my arrival the tower had been introduced as the newest building in SWEETS collection of rooms scattered across the city, each with a unique story and view of the city’s legion of waterways. Quirk, meet history.
Amsterdam’s reputation as the “Venice of the North” began in the 1600s, when the city started digging concentric canals as a way to transport goods across the area. Houses along those canals were installed as a way to open and close bridges, allowing larger loads to pass through. It was a system that worked fairly well, until like so many other careers, automation killed it.
Originally proposed as an urban renewal project, SWEETS goal was to use these vacated spaces as a way to spread tourism across the city, the obvious point being that if you’re sleeping in a neighborhood, you’re likely to spend money there. Of course, the added bonus is that if your bridge house is full of tourists, it’s less likely to be full of squatters (a trend developed in response to rising housing prices in the 1960s, and popularized with multiple locations along Vondelstraats street).
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