The Dutchman syndrome


An old Polish saying that we can’t dicuss tastes, senses of style, is probably one of the most defensive sentences human invented. We can’t discuss which means that we have to accept all these plastic flowerpots looking like Corinthian capital, peach plaster on public buildings and bowers from OBI. We shrug our shoulders, well, someone may like it. I recommend visit the Netherlands to change your minds.

Living in unknown city for half of year you got a subjective belief that you know it. That you know its residents, their mentality and laws guiding their little lives and you think that you understand them. Maybe even more, that you start behave in the same way. It is hard for me to compare this characteristic experience with anything else, but what is interesting, my first impression of the Netherlands  hasn’t changed over the months. Magic.

This magic can turn out to be not magical at all when we analyse most visible Dutch characteristics. First thing you can see is almost complete achitecture unification. All buildings are very similar, finished with bricks of every possible colours with big windows and the same height. It creates coherent unity of urban architecture, which are individualize by details. It means that we have simple, good and repeatable BASE, on which we build our design. We can recognize a bigger thought, kind of master plan, which include whole neighbourhood, whole city, not only one object. I have no idea if it happens due to some law regulations or just their mentality, but it is brilliant.

In architecture, interior design or people’s appearance NORMALITY rules. My Dutch teacher said beautifully that Dutch people are famous for being normal. And this is truth. Message is clear and honest, they don’t try to show anything apart from reality. There is nothing like displaying sb’s wealth or hiding it, nobody cares. It is hard to find a building which desperately try to look different, the fact that it is similar to others is its big value.

Even in the suburbs multi-family buildings with low intensity dominate the environment. It is visible that they design rationally, thinking about costs. People don’t have a problem with living „together”, in Poland we go for it only when there is no choice: we don’t have money for private house, we need to live in the city centre etc. But they aren’t culturally more open than us, there are no big neighbours friendships, no sitting together in front of house, which we can see in Southern Europe. They’ve just learned to live side by side, not disturbing each other.

There are no fences, walls, on ground floors huge windows are popular, it is possible to look into resident’s soup. You can say they are freaks, don’t respect their own privacy. But maybe they have just nothing to hide, are self-confident enough to lie on a sofa and not be afraid of pedestrians’ sight? Gardens are often just a green area, no cut out pieces of grass. Only lack of barriere which scares me is that around the canals – how turists, children, bikes and cars not fall down there is impossible for me.

In all their actions they are focused on effectiveness. There is an order but not in German style. They choose durable and good quality materials, which can last long, there is no building bungles. In apartaments they minimalize space for corridors and stairs which are often horribly steep and uncomfortable, to have more square meters for rooms. And they work in the same way. Not to complete loss of energy, 40 days a week, but that much to live in comfort, but it is better to have more free time than more money.

Their good taste is incredible. There are no problems with changing windows in tenement houses, painting elevation fragments on different colours (it’s mine!), kitschy decorations, flowerpots etc. (living here is hard to believe that such things somewhere happen). They understand that building exterior connected to public area is a common weal and noone’s individuality should disturb it. Inside or on the courtyard it is no problem, por favor, there is even a place for rudy garden gnome.

The Netherlands is at first and twentieth sight a friendly place to live. Simple, rational, with a canal view. In many aspects it is similar to Poland, but in Holland everyone is calm, easy going and there is no such a popular Polish problem as „what will people think”.

All these observations are 100% subjective opinions of Polish immigrant, copyright by, for more objective truth you should search in more scientific sources.


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The Dutchman syndrome

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