Forget Amsterdam canal mansions, the thatched villas of Laren and the boring high-rises springing up all over the country. Here’s a list of 12 iconic 20th century Dutch homes, based on the views of the experts at website iconichouses.org
1 The Cube House (Piet Blom 1984, Rotterdam)
Blom’s cube house perched seemingly precariously on one of its point on a pole is really a very sophisticated tree house. His idea was to build to build ‘a forest of trees’ and turn it into a small, largely self-contained community amid the urban sprawl. There’s a cube house for you to visit to find out if it gives you that tree house feeling.
2 T Het Schip (Michel de Klerk, 1921)
Het Schip is Amsterdamse School at its jolliest and most heart-lifting. Beautifully decorated, with all sorts of unexpected flourishes and unfunctional curlicues which present-day social housing is sadly lacking. Now home to a museum.
3 De Papaverhof (Jan Wils, 1921, The Hague)
Another stylish social housing project (although this one was meant for the middle classes ‘who might soon not be able to afford a maid.’). This one is inspired by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright who influenced the Dutch Stijl movement. Jan Wils successfully incorporated the key elements airiness, light and unity in this project.
4 The Jan de Jong house (Jan de Jong, 1962-67, Schaijk)
Jan de Jong is a representative of the so-called ‘Bossche School’: a starkly classical style with a strict emphasis on proportion much used in the Dutch church architecture of the time. ‘DISPONERE MOLEM CONDECET SAPIENTEM ET ORDINARE STRUCTOREM SPATIA CORPORI TECTUM MENTI PARARE STRATUM’ was De Jong’s dictum which is cut into one of the stone lintels of the house. It means roughly that a home needs to be a roof over your head but also a place conducive to contemplation. http://www.jandejongstichting.nl (accessible to the public on Nationale Monumentendag Sept 12 &13)
5 Jachthuis Sint Hubertus (H.P. Berlage, 1920, Hoge Veluwe)
Built by Dutch master architect Berlage, the country residence of the wealthy Kröller-Müller family shows all the hallmarks of his style. Berlage not only designed the red brick house with its distinctive tower, he got involved in everything else as well, from gardens to cutlery. His only gripe was that the lady of the house kept interfering thus spoiling his vision. When she wanted to add a conservatory he abandoned the project in exasperation. We can see why she wanted more light in. It’s mad-looking from outside but inside the rooms are pokey and dark.
6 The Dijkstra house (Ben Merkelbach and Charles Karsten, 1934, Groet)
The Dijkstra house is an example of a side shoot of the Stijl called het Nieuwe Bouwen (the new way of building) which, more than the parent plant, emphasised functionality. Here is the antithesis of the Amsterdamse School: geometric, white plastered façades and strictly no frilly nonsense. The house is a holiday rental (personally we think the kitchen is on the small side but then who wouldn’t want to cook in an icon?).
7 The Rietveld-Schröder house (Gerrit Rietveld and Truus Schröder, 1924, Utrecht)
This was named after Nieuwe Bouwen pioneer Gerrit Rietveld and client Truus Schröder. Schröder, an interior designer, had very particular ideas about the house she wanted for her and her three children: panels to change the function and size of the rooms, shutters instead of curtains and many other ingenious (furniture) features which Schröder and Rietveld must have had a lot of fun designing.
8 The Van Zessen house (Cornelis van Eesteren and Theo van Doesburg, 1923, Alblasserdam)
Artist and poet Van Doesburg, one of the founding fathers of the influential Stijl art and architectural movement and architect Van Eesteren joined artistic forces to design the Van Zessen house built in Van Eesteren’s home town of Alblasserdam. Van Doesburg is responsible for the daring colour scheme of the outside of the house.
9 Van Eesteren museum apartment (Cornelis van Eesteren, 1952, Amsterdam)
Nieuwe Bouwen adept Van Eesteren is the architect of Amsterdam’s Stadsuitbreidingsplan, or expansion plan, conceived in 1934 and executed after the war. There’s a Van Eesteren museum which houses exhibitions on several of the ‘garden cities’ built by Van Eesteren to alleviate the terrible lack of houses, such as Osdorp, Slotervaart and Overtoomse Veld. To visit the ‘outside’ museum you can sign up for an architectural walk past Van Eesteren buildings, or visit the iconic fifties style apartment in Slotermeer.
10 The Kiefhoek house museum (J.J.P. Oud, 1930, Rotterdam)
Nieuwe Bouwen architect Oud was called in to provide social housing for the working classes in Rotterdam. It had to be cheap, efficient and practical. The upstairs had no bathroom or indeed a tap. The homes were later demolished and then rebuilt with better materials and all the modern amenities in place. The Kiefhoek house museum dates from 1930 and is still in its old state.
11 The Sonneveld house museum (Brinkman en van der Vlugt, 1933, Rotterdam)
Also in Rotterdam but in a slightly different price bracket is the Sonneveld house, built for the well-to do Rotterdam Sonneveld family. Sonneveld Sr was a director at the Van Nelle tobacco factory, travelled widely and an admirer of American architecture. Proponents of the clean Nieuwe Bouwen style, the architects worked with another modernist, the famous furniture designer W.H. Gispen. The house has been restored to its former glory and is now home to an extensive collection of art from the Thirties.
12 The Van Schijndel house ( Mart van Schijndel, 1992-93, Utrecht)
Architect Mart van Schijndel lives in the house he designed for himself, and very nice it is too. The treatment of light and space, and the sculptural qualities of the building have given the Van Schijndel house iconic status even though it is a youngster on our list. Visits are by appointment only.
We’ve tried to make sure all these photos are from open sources. If we’ve nicked yours, please let us know and we’ll apologise profusely.