KLM’s Delft Blue miniature houses get a full-scale version in Amsterdam

For nearly 60 years, KLM has handed out small ceramic replicas of historical Dutch houses filled with Dutch ‘genever’ to passengers in Business Class. Each Delft Blue miniature depicts a real Dutch house, and the houses are made using the same glazing process as the famous blue tiles produced in the Dutch city of Delft. KLM has produced almost a hundred different models since 1952, and every year on 7 October the airline presents a new house to mark its anniversary. All houses remain on offer, but KLM carries only about 30 on each flight. The houses have become a desirable collectors item and have generated a lively trade on websites such as eBay. KLM also recently launched a mobile app for iPhone and Android phones that lists all KLM houses, so passengers no longer have to bring crumpled notes with them in order to pick their favourite house. 

‘Out of the Blue’
The KLM miniature houses have also been the source of inspiration for a series of full-scale houses recently built In the centre of Amsterdam. In 2009, Stadsherstel Amsterdam, an organisation involved in urban restoration in Amsterdam, had been commissioned by the Municipality of Amsterdam to spruce up the ‘Oudezijds Armsteeg’, a badly run-down street in the city’s red-light district. The plan was to make the street attractive to tourists again by introducing business activities and giving it a real Amsterdam feeling. 

A flight in KLM’s Business Class provided the inspiration for a life-size version of the airline’s iconic Delft Blue houses in a project called ‘Out of the Blue’. Says Jaap Hulscher, deputy director of Stadsherstel Amsterdam, “I was flying in KLM Business Class and received one of those little KLM houses. This made me start noticing them everywhere around the world, and I realized that this is the traditional image people in other countries may have of how we live in the Netherlands. At the same time, nobody in the Netherlands has got this image.”

Stadsherstel asked an architect to design 6 houses inspired by the iconic white glazed bricks, wide bright blue frames and roofing tiles, and little stepped gaveles of the KLM miniature houses. The local aestethics committee in Amsterdam, who looks after the historic character of the inner city also gave their permission. The result are a row of white and blue houses with shops, including a local brewery, on the ground floor and rental appartments on the upper floors. KLM hasn’t been involved in the project, but has reacted enthusiasticly. For more pictures of the ‘Out of the Blue’ houses, see herehere and here

“Dutch Houses for a Cause’
In another interesting move, Air France-KLM has also build family homes designed like Delft Blue houses in Caloocan City in the Philippines, as part of its corporate social responsibility program. Each unit cost Php93,500 (USD2,100/EUR 1,600) and measures 20 square metres with one bedroom, toilet, bath, kitchen sink and a laundry area. 23 houses have been completed sofar, with a dozen more under construction. 24 makeshift homes will also be transformed into Dutch and French-inspired houses in ‘Air France KLM Village No. 2’ which is located in the same area. 

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