Favourite Sites in Amsterdam | 3 February 2018

Martijn Sandberg describes and photographs his choice of five locations in the city of Amsterdam. The article was previously published in the London-based magazine Citylikeyou in January 2012.

Dis-pe-reert Niet

At the Damrak on the daily journey between home and studio, my eye is continually drawn to the emblem that has functioned as a facade ornament on the corner of the Beurs van Berlage for more than a hundred years.
In combination with the past function of the building – trade centre – and in relation to financial crisis, the timeless maxim gains extra significance: ‘Dis-pe-reert niet’ (‘Do not des-pair’).

Homo Sapiens Non Urinat In Ventum

The portal between the Leidseplein nightlife area and the Max Eeuweplein is pompously accentuated by a classical looking facade, designed in 1991 by Zaanen Spanjers Architects. On the frieze, supported by columns, the architect has carved an inscription: ‘Homo sapiens non urinat in ventum’ – ‘A wise man does not piss into the wind’. A ‘wisecrack’, disguised in Latin.

Art In The Underground Stations

Under the city, the extraordinary Gesamtkunstwerk by Louis van Gasteren, Jan Sierhuis and others is located in Nieuwmarkt underground.
This is one of the public artworks of the Seventies and early Eighties endangered due to station renovation on the Underground Eastline. At present there is a notice hanging at different spots on the wall: ”This artwork has been temporally removed due to renovations”.

Deze Muur Staat Er Niet

A few years ago I had a conversation with a staff member from Uytenhaak Architects about concealed texts in Amsterdam, relating to my own work ‘stoned forever’, which is integrated in brickwork in the Olympic Quarter.
He said that there is a text in Morse code incorporated into the Droogbak (1989), a residential building by Uytenhaak: ‘Deze muur staat er niet’ (‘This wall isn’t here’).
It is located close to the railway line. Rudy Uytenhaak later told me that this was his last opportunity to protest against the acoustic wall that had to be constructed for bureaucratic reasons.


The fence around De Nederlandsche Bank on the Frederiksplein is a true optical experience. While passing the building, a rhythmic, dynamic pattern appears and disappears in the trellis of the fence.
The figures on the sides of the rails were designed in 1992 by artist Peter Struycken, a pioneer in the area of environmental art and generating computer-program based image, light and colour compositions.

Article: Favourite Sites in Amsterdam
Author: Martijn Sandberg
Previously published: January 2012
Magazine: www.citylikeyou.com, London/ UK

Click here for text in English, as PDF.
Click here for text in Dutch, as PDF.

‘Dis-pe-reert Niet’, Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam (photo: Martijn Sandberg, 2011)

‘Homo Sapiens Non Urinat In Ventum’, Amsterdam (photo: Martijn Sandberg, 2011)

‘Art In The Underground Stations’, Nieuwmarkt, Amsterdam (photo: Martijn Sandberg, 2011)

‘Deze Muur Staat Er Niet’, Nieuwe Westerdokstraat, Amsterdam (photo: Martijn Sandberg, 2011)

‘Fence’, De Nederlandsche Bank, Westeinde 1, Amsterdam (photo: Martijn Sandberg, 2011)