The first significant period of Dutch architecture was during the Dutch Golden Age roughly beginning at the start of the 17th century. Due to the thriving economy cities expanded greatly. New town halls and storehouses were built. Merchants who had made a fortune ordered new houses built along one of the many new canals that were dug out in and around various cities and towns (for defense and transport purposes), houses with ornamented facades that benefited their new status. In the countryside new country houses were built, though not in the same numbers. Some well known architects of the period were Jacob van Campen (1595-1657), Lieven de Key (c. 1560-1627) and Hendrik de Keyser (1565-1621).
At the end of the 19th century there was a remarkable neo-gothic stream or Gothic Revival both in church and in public architecture, notably by the Roman-Catholic Pierre Cuypers, who was inspired by the Frenchman Viollet le Duc. The Amsterdam Rijksmuseum (1876-1885) and Amsterdam Centraal Station (1881-1889) belong to his main buildings. During the 20th century Dutch architects played a leading role in the development of modern architecture. Out of the early 20th century rationalist architecture of Berlage, architect of the Beurs van Berlage, three separate groups developed during the 1920’s, each with their own view on which direction modern architecture should take. Expressionist architects like M. de Klerk and P.J. Kramer in Amsterdam (See Amsterdam School). Functionalist architects (Nieuwe Zakelijkheid or Nieuwe Bouwen) like Mart Stam, L.C. van der Vlugt, Willem Marinus Dudok and Johannes Duiker had good ties with the international modernist group CIAM.
A third group came out of the De Stijl movement, among them J.J.P Oud and Gerrit Rietveld. Both architects later built in a functionalist style.
During the 50’s and 60’s a new generation of architects like Aldo van Eyck, J.B. Bakema and Herman Hertzberger, known as the ‘Forum generation’ (named after a magazine called Forum) formed a connection with international groups like Team 10.
From the 80’s to the present Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) became one of the leading world architects. With him, formed a new generation of Dutch architects working in a modernist tradition.