Modern inheritance of a forgotten architecture. De Bijenkorf by Willem Dudok

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Project team
B.J. Ouëndag. Dirk Brouwer.
Structural engineer.- W. Ouëndag.
Plot area.- 4,945 sqm.
Competition.- 1928. Construction.- 1929. Opening.- 1930. Demolition.- 1960.
Van Hogendorpsplein, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Willem Marinus Dudok

Willem Dudok was a Dutch architect, born in Amsterdam and established in Hilversum, active between 1910 and 1966.

Willen Dudok's long career, exercised without interruption in one and the same place, is generally illustrated in the history of the modern Movement. With heroic character at times, but more frequently and in the long run very prosaic and modest, his work nevertheless offers us an exemplary summary of the architectural and urban problems of the first half of the century.

Coming from a family passionate about musical culture and a great music fan himself, Dudok studied at the Breda Military Academy from 1902 to 1905. After completing his duties in the army, where he served in the engineering corps , is hired in 1913 in the architectural service of the city of Leiden. His first productions in the same place, a high school in Hoge Rijndijk, the headquarters of the Leidse Dagblad newspaper and a group of houses (in collaboration with J. J. P. Oud), reveal the strong influence of Hendrik Berlage.

In 1915, he was appointed Director of Public Works in Hilversum, then a small town.

Closer to the thinking of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School than to his contemporaries in the De Stijl group, he invariably uses materials such as brick, wood and tile or straw for the roofs, which, moving his achievements away from abstraction, they insert them much more naturally into their environment.

Similar to musical compositions, with a certain virtuosity in the rhythmic openings and in the towers articulated in crescendos, Dudok produced three outstanding works in his career: the Hilversum Town Hall (1924), the Dutch pavilion in the university city of Paris (1927) and the De Bijenkorf department store building in Rotterdam. The latter, destroyed in 1940, bursts into the old city center in an unusual way, occupying almost the entire block. It proclaims its modernity with its large glazed surfaces and long horizontal slabs in contrast to a massive angled pylon and a tall tower positioned as a landmark. A similar typology is found in his Parisian project as well as in the Hilversum town hall, where four wings with variable volumes are assembled around a central courtyard.

More compact and concentrated, the Dutch pavilion in Paris lines one of its facades on the boulevard, while in Hilversum the masses dynamically unfold outwards, generously integrating the landscaped space, with a pond, in a calm Olympic atmosphere.

Dudok also built the Utrecht Theater (1939-1941) and the office building of the De Nederlanden van 1845 company, in Rotterdam (1942-1952), the upper floors of which are occupied by houses. He especially runs one hundred and twelve service stations throughout the country and offices for the company.



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