Nieuwenkamp Museum Foundation

Architect & boat builder

Without any formal training, Nieuwenkamp also designed the De Zwerver, a beautiful houseboat, and a number of other houses and studios. He also completed numerous restorations.

Boat builder
After his first journey to the Indies in 1998 Nieuwenkamp became restless and designed a houseboat, at the time a new phenomena, named the De Zwerver. He moved to rooms at the boatyard, teamed up with the boat builder to help construct the houseboat, and sailed to Edam on his trial run. The boat, lacking a real front or back, was just a rectangular superstructure (head and tail were missing), and so attracted a great deal of attention. Nieuwenkamp first wanted to see if he actually liked 'living on the water', and, as it turned out, he did. After they returned to the boatyard the boat was completed. The 17th century interior is really beautiful, decorated with Nieuwenkamp's own carvings.
This special houseboat had no sail or motor, and was towed by a tug or drawn by a drey horse. However, it could also be poled quite easily, and Nieuwenkamp soon revealed himself to be skilled in poling. Often there was a skipper on board too, named Jan Slot.

Architect
Nieuwenkamp left many architectural marks on land as well. In Edam he designed his own house and studio, adding a boathouse and a house for his gardener.
Opposite his house, on the other side of the water, he decided to buy several houses to prevent them from being poorly rebuilt after their demolition, preferring to rebuild them himself. He created the boat building plans and, of course, he participated both as a builder and as a contractor.
Nieuwenkamp also designed three farms in the Veluwe and, in Lunteren there is a watchtower designed by him in the Lunterense Buurtbos which was a gift to the commune of Lunteren from Johan van den Ham the uncle of Nieuwenkamp's wife's Anna Wilbrink. The height of the tower was increased at a later date.
Also in Lunteren, you will find a beautiful country house (the Eekhorst) which Nieuwenkamp designed for his sister Gerarda Wilbrink with an interior containing all the decorative detail characteristic of Nieuwenkamp.

Anecdote:
In 1905 Mister Rossing wrote in One's own home [Eigen Haard]:
'Nieuwenkamp is looking for an experienced master boat builder. He found a boat and boat builder: Sjollema, a Frisian from Oude Wetering, located between Aalsmeer and Leiden whose father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather before him had all built barges and boats, but nothing like the one Nieuwenkamp was talking about. He did foresee some difficulties, but after Nieuwenkamp had shown him the plans, and they had discussed them seriously, and had everything calculated, he was confident enough to go ahead. Sjollema started working at the De Vlijt boat yard that belonged to P. Schoenmakers in Amsterdam. His employer and client was always there to assist. Nieuwenkamp knew nothing about bolts, rivets or boat carpentry, but he was eager to learn and worked as a builder’s assistant. For one year he boarded with the old master boat builder and thoroughly enjoyed the boat carpentry. The mystery of a boatyard and an old house was discussed in nightly conversations in the boatyard, when Nieuwenkamp and the loquacious master boat builder talked about boats and barges, the sea and wanderings. 'Most agreeable', as one of his favourite expressions goes.
Imagine, Nieuwenkamp working as a assistant... It was as if his craft skills were innate as well. He joins Sjollema as a younger comrade, going on and off the boat, and within a few years, he will be designing boats in Insulindia, Bouginese proas and Balinese Djoegoengs on the beach, or even before this, during his journey to Egypt in December 1903: Nile Dahabiyas, and the spirit of his old comrade will feel very close... '