Stoop bench prototype

Marjolein Katsma

Groningen, Netherlands

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Share this page Photo and text © 2010 Marjolein Katsma


Tags for this photograph:
urban, steps, stairs, stairway, staircase, seat, street, bench, amsterdam, furniture, netherlands, stoop, street seat, stoop bench


This photo is part of the Street seats series.

In the Netherlands, many old houses have stoops, a (usually raised) platform at the entrance of the house that forms a transition zone between the public street and the privacy of the house. When raised (with steps), there usually is a basement below the living floor, often used for storage or kitchen. As you can read in the Wikipedia article linked above, the Dutch brought this building habit with them to what is now the USA, where you can find stoops in cities like New York, Boston or San Francisco. Unlike the article suggests, stoops are not only found along canals, but are common in urban areas, and it’s not a matter of lack of space either: unseen by the public such city blocks may have large gardens at the back (and this space off the street could also be used for small workshops and light industry).

As a private space open to the public street, stoops often have a bench (or two) designed into them, sometimes of stone, or integrated with the fence. There are still many examples of those around in Amsterdam (especially along the canals).

This photo (taken somewhere in the Jordaan district) shows what may be considered a prototype of the stoop bench: the private living quarters are above street level and a basement, but the entrance is reached via simple wooden steps, here with a nice bench integrated into the steps. You can see it’s still a private area because the steps rest on hard-stone slabs (which would still be considered a “stoep” (stoop)), separate from the public street’s paving.

Taken in Amsterdam, Netherlands 2010
Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1

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