J. WILS, 1919-1922, Papaverhof, Den Haag
Papaverhof / Papaverhof ( J. Wils )
© 2006 Jan Derwig

Jan Wils

Jaap Franso

Urban plans

The Papaverhof, a neighbourhood of 125 middle-class houses, was commissioned by Daal en Berg, a cooperative housing association. It originally consisted of 65 two-storey single-family houses around a green square of approximately 70 x 100 metres. Later, two blocks of apartments were added along Klimopstraat after consultation with the council to help scale the housing to the surrounding development. It was Wils's ingenious method of siting the single-family houses that made space for the green square. They are linked in pairs in a back-to-back configuration that leaves space in-between the pairs for their entrances. Houses with their living room and entrance on the street side have a kitchen overlooking the square, and vice versa. These capacious dwellings have a ground floor of living room, kitchen and an ample hall from which a quarter-turn stair leads to an upper storey of three bedrooms and a bathroom. Above the bay window at the front of each unit is a narrow strip of fenestration allowing sunlight to penetrate deep into the house. The apartments, most of which have four rooms, are reached from a central stairhall. The porch contains several 'modern' appliances such as a goods lift and a speaking tube connected to the entrance door which can be opened automatically. Jan Wils was one of the founders of the De Stijl group. His work, like that of Van 't Hoff and Oud, the other two architects at the group's inception, shows the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright. The Papaverhof has often been compared, not without justification, to Wright's housing for employees of the Larkin Company in Buffalo. When the neighbourhood was restored in 1989 the houses were given an outer coating of insulation and untreated stucco and the door and window frames regained their original colours.