The so-called ‘Portiek’ used to be a very popular access type for apartment buildings in the Netherlands. It is a type of covered forecourt (vestibule or portico), a space in front of the entrance that lies entirely within the building and is open to the street.
The ‘Portiek’ was one of the favorite tools of the Amsterdamse School (the Dutch expressionistic architectural style of the first part of the 20th century) to create sculptural effects. The entrances are articulated dramatically, to form a kind of welcoming ‘caves’.
In the nineties however this type of covered outdoor space disappeared from the toolbox of the city planner.
The ‘urban grotto’ now was considered dangerous; a place where possible muggers could lurk, a hideout for potential rapists or assailants… In the past three decades roofed open-air space has been banned; in our city expansions streets have become non-stick conduits.
But since increasingly heavy rainstorms become more and more frequent, we could really benefit from some basic form of shelter…
And in the mean time another climate change is taking place: crime rates have been going down rapidly. The city no longer is dangerous…. time for the second coming of the Portiek?