J.J.P. OUD, 1924-1927, 2e Scheepvaartstraat, Hoek van Holland
Woningbouw Scheepvaartstraat / Housing Scheepvaartstraat ( J.J.P. Oud )
© 2006 Jan Derwig

J.J.P. Oud

Wytze Patijn
J. van Kampen
Katrien Overmeire

Urban plans

Housing Kiefhoek

Oud designed this housing block in 1924 when City Architect to Rotterdam, of which the Hook of Holland forms part. Building took place shortly after in 1926-1927. This was Oud's first design in a series of white housing projects and it earned him immediate international recognition. The elongated wall of housing is divided into two equal parts, their rounded ends containing shops on the ground floor with all-glass fronts. Above the gateway in the block's centre is a library. The block otherwise consists of dwellings, three-room units on the ground floor and an alternation of two- and four-room units on the upper level. This bipartition into lower and upper dwellings can also be seen in the treatment of the exterior. At street level the facade, joined as it is to the glass shop fronts, has an openness about it. The white facade area above, on the other hand, is more introverted. This division into an exposed and an enclosed strip, and even more so the continuous white-rendered balcony upstairs, serves to strengthen the horizontal character of the street frontage. In his housing designs Oud treats the facades not as an accumulation of individual dwellings but as an architectural whole in which the street elevation functions as part of the urban fabric. In this, the Hook of Holland housing certainly succeeds, with just its brick garden walls providing individual units with some identifying element. The rear facade, as opposed to its taut streetside counterpart, has a lively, rhythmic quality. It steps back and forth in an alternation of narrow and broad bays, clearly emphasizing the individual dwellings. This contrast between the taut street front and more articulated rear facade has some affinity with the villas of Adolf Loos. A Neoplastic design for the ends of the blocks is known to exist. The round-ended version as built was contemptuously dismissed by Van Doesburg as an over-the-top imitation of Van de Velde. This finalized Oud's break with De Stijl after which he pursued a severely functionalist path. The use of colour alone recalls his past associations with that movement: white facades, yellow brick, blue doors and railings and red lamp-posts.