The pancake pavilion on Meent is such a familiar Rotterdam building that few people realise it was designed by an architect and is a fine example of post-war reconstruction architecture. The architect of Bongers Tearoom, as the restaurant used to be known, was Harry Nefkens (1918). Although not particularly well known, he was a very active architect during the post-war reconstruction period, especially with residential projects. His best-known work is probably the housing on Stellendamstraat in Pendrecht, better known as the Vissenkommen (‘Fish Bowls’). The Seamans House on Willemskade is another of his projects.
The pancake pavilion is octagonal in shape and eight metres in diameter. Although just one floor tall, the building contains a basement with toilets, storage space and a kitchen. A dumbwaiter connects the kitchen to the buffet set against the rear wall. An open staircase descends to the basement. The tearoom had a capacity of sixty seats, most of which were arranged around the fully glazed facade.
The steel structure is placed outside the facade and lends the building a fresh appearance.
The ground floor is raised 55 centimetres above street level. A canopy runs around the building. The steel structure is placed outside the facade and lends the building a fresh appearance. The canopy extends through the roof, the central section of which is raised to allow plenty of daylight to penetrate the interior through clerestory windows.
Light, colour and glory
The building was opened on Saturday 18 June 1955. Het Vrije Volk reported enthusiastically:
Bongers Waffle and Pancake Bakery has been in existence for over sixty years, and the family company actually has a history that extends back a century and a half, but that history is anything but tied to a particular place. In the distant past it began at a fun fair, but the current owner has already relocated three times. On the last occasion to Meent, where today the first pancake will be served in a brand-new small octagonal building. Before the war Mr Bongers had his company on Diergaardelaan, where it was destroyed by the bombing. The second company on Gordelweg had to be expropriated, and now Mr Bongers it starting for the third time, at the age of 67, in his tearoom on Meent. A start in an area dominated by light, colour and glory. The small structure, built to a design by architect Harry Nefkens, gives the illusion of ‘being outside’ among the rows of shops in the area, and the fresh colours seem to challenge the sun to shine. If it does shine, by the way, there is plenty of space to catch a few rays on the terraces grouped around the octagon.
In 1970 there were plans to build a hotel for 200 young migrants behind the pancake pavilion. Some years later this plan became a small-scale housing scheme comprising 42 one- and two-bedroom dwellings by Leo de Jonge Architects, built in the brick architecture typical of the 1970s. In March 2006 Bongers ceased running the pancake pavilion, which was then sold to Bram Ladage, which operates chips stands. Plans then emerged to replace the pavilion and the housing between Botersloot and Pannekoekstraat with a residential tower.
Property developer Henk Dijkgraaf does not want to divulge what exactly will be built. But one thing is certain: the nostalgic pancake saloon on Meent will make way for new development. “It’s too early to say what will be built, because I’m still in discussions with the municipality.” He can confirm, though, that it concerns shops and cafés. “A new structure that does justice to its surroundings.”
In 2009 Jeroen Hoorn designed a more modest proposal for this developer, consisting of a tall development along Meent, with the pavilion set on a new raised square. Owing to the property crisis, this proposal was shelved, and since then it is home to a new pancake restaurant.