Sonneveld House is a prime example of the Nieuwe Bouwen style. The design drawings show that while the functionalistic form of the house came easily, deciding on a functional layout proved to be more difficult. Starting from various archive materials, architecture historian and curator Hetty Berens explores the design history of the house. What choices were made and who was involved in the project?
This lecture is part of the Rotterdam Architecture Month 2017.
The Nieuwe Bouwen style is a functional form of architecture that emerged in the beginning of the 20th century and peaked between the First and Second World Wars. Sonneveld House (1993) is one of the best-preserved houses in this architectural style. The villa was designed by the Rotterdam architectural office Brinkman and Van der Vlugt; one of the key representatives of the Nieuwe Bouwen style during the interwar decades in the Netherlands. In the Sonneveld House project, the architects worked closely together with various partners. W.H. Gispen was involved in selecting the furniture, while the colour scheme of the interior was the result of a collaboration with De Sijl artist Bert van der Leck.
Nieuwe Bouwen Style
The architects affiliated with the Nieuwe Bouwen style strived for a healthy living environment, providing the residents and users of their buildings access to fresh air and sunlight. With the use of modern techniques and materials, such as concrete and steel construction, they designed efficient, hygienic buildings. Functional floor plans with spaces that could be freely divided gave the buildings an open, airy feel, which was further enhanced by the presence of balconies and outdoor terraces.
In Sonneveld House, one can quite literally recognise the five functional principles that Le Corbusier formulated in Vers une Architecture. For instance: the idea of “elevated living” can be found in the placement of the living room, which is located on the first floor, and the service quarters on the ground floor. However, the design history of the house reveals that the living room and the service quarters were initially planned elsewhere. How did the architects decide which approach to take and how were they influenced in this process by others?
Hetty Berens is an architecture historian and heritage curator at Het Nieuwe Instituut. She is responsible for the management, conservation and programming of Sonneveld House. Currently, Hetty Berens is also part of the curatorial team for the exhibition Architecture and Interiors. The Desire for Style, at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague (10 June-17 September 2017), developed in partnership with Het Nieuwe Instituut.
Date: 29 June
Time: 19.30 - 20.30 h
Location: Sonneveld House