11.06.2016

dancing with architecture: J.J.P. Oud in Rotterdam and Katwijk aan Zee, Netherlands


Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud, more commonly known as J.J.P. Oud, was a Dutch architect and one of the earliest architectural Modernists as well as an early follower of De Stijl. In his formative years, he was influenced by Berlange, studied under Theodor Fischer in Munich, worked with W.M. Dudok and became involved with Theo van Doesburg. While architect for the city housing authority in Rotterdam between 1918 and 1933, he built many socially progressive housing developments in a style he called "poetic functionalism."

Oud participated in the Weissenhof Exhibition in 1927 and in 1932 was named by Henry Russel-Hitchcock and Philip Johnson as, along with Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius, one of the four greatest modern architects (although years later Hitchcock regretted that he had not swapped out Oud with Rietveld). He was ostracized from Modernism after photos of his lightly ornamented Shell Headquarters built in The Hague in 1941 made the rounds after the war. 

These days, Oud is remembered mostly for his decidedly De Stijl De Unie Cafe in Rotterdam built in 1925 and his row houses at the Weissenhof. Amazingly, the cafe still exists today in much of its original grandeur (at least the facade). We stopped in for a drink and snack (beer and bitterballs). During the day, De Unie is a cafe; at night, it's a gay bar. The men's restroom had a pay dispenser for hair gel!



A photo from back in the day.

The Kiefhoek (1928-1930) was one of his housing developments for Rotterdam, an array of two-story apartments with some retail. Notably, each apartment is washed with ample light from ribbon-windows and is graced with a small yard. There's a subtler use of De Stijl's trademark red, blue, and yellow in the development.

















Photo from back in the day.

In 1923, Oud designed and built a temporary office for the superintendent of construction for a housing development at Oud-Mathenesse. The development was recently demolished by Rotterdam but replaced with something in the spirit of Oud. Rotterdam also rebuilt the superintendent's office.












The morbid replacement housing.

Finally, we set for the coast to see one of Oud's earliest buildings, a remarkable house at Katwijk-aan-Zee built in 1917 and designed with Kamerlingh Onnes. It is "now" a hotel, so I tried to get a room, but could never get the non-English website to work. When we pulled up, I was horrified to see that it was being torn down. That horror quickly turned to relief when it became apparent that the workers were restoring the structure to its original design (various owners over the years had considerably modified the structure).





Here's what it looked like about a year ago (downloaded just now from Google):





And here's what it looked like back in the day:







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