Utrecht, Zadelstraat

It is not really evident from this photograph just what an enormous tower this is. It is farther away than it appears, because the street crests about 50 meters from the camera and then falls gently away, which affects the perceived distance. There is also a canal not far in front of the tower, but because it is not really evident in the photograph, the eye does not see the extra distance. It is always important to bear in mind that perception is not the same as reality, and in the case of design, it is usually perception, not reality, that matters.

This is another lovely street, in the oldest part of Utrecht. While many of the buildings are probably only 50 years old when this photograph was taken, the street has probably been here in more or less the same form for 500 years. Soil conditions in the Netherlands are precarious, and if the slightest thing goes wrong with the foundation of a building, it may have to come down (modern technology has made it possible to save many buildings that previously would have had to be demolished). That accounts for the considerable variety in building styles that is seen on most streets in the Netherlands. Only the southeast of the country, which is slightly elevated from the marshy plain that forms most of the nation, has stable soils, which accounts for the age of buildings in Maastricht, a city since Roman times.

The spiral staircase at the top right of the tower is unique, so far as I know. It borders on grotesque.

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