It must be a pleasure to work inside this light, open building. That is clear from the wonderful curved staircase above the main entrance, which swirls upwards through all floors like a dancer; from the spacious canteens, tastefully finished and with a generous view of the surroundings; from the way the concrete is used to explain the structure even to a lay person; and from the broad galleries of the upper floor that give the effect of a promenade along the corridors of an industrial monastery.
Rein Blijstra in Het Vrije Volk 29-12-1952
Maaskant and Van Tijen
The architects Hugh Maaskant and Willem van Tijen built three so-called industrial buildings for multiple tenants in quick succession in post-war Rotterdam: on Oostzeedijk (1947), on Goudsesingel (1952), and the well-known Groothandelsgebouw on Weena (1953). Maaskant later designed another multi-tenant building at Zuidplein. While Maaskant was the chief designer of the Groothandelsgebouw, the hand of Van Tijen is clearly visible in the architecture of the two industrial buildings: “This is the last important building in which Maaskant and I worked together. I had no part in the design of the Groothandelsgebouw, although we did discuss it.” W. van Tijen in ‘Een boekenkast opgeruimd’, 1970.
“This is the last important building in which Maaskant and I worked together. I had no part in the design of the Groothandelsgebouw, although we did discuss it.”
W. van Tijen in ‘Een boekenkast opgeruimd’, 1970.
The client for the industrial buildings was the Industriestichting Rotterdam, an initiative set up by the Chamber of Commerce in 1940. After the war there was a great demand for practical office and commercial space. But the idea of collective company facilities was much older and they had been built especially in America. In 1939 Van Tijen and Maaskant had already designed a multi-tenant building for the bank Mees & Zonen, to accommodate the businesses relocated from the slums behind Goudsesingel scheduled for clearance. In 1941 the Industriestichting Rotterdam appointed them to design the industrial building on Oostzeedijk. The building was composed of five parts, which were built in phases. The two most westerly sections were built during the wartime occupation, but construction only got underway again in 1946. In the 1980s the building was radically modernised, and since 2012 it has housed the Student Hotel. Since its recent refurbishment, the Industriegebouw Goudsesingel has been restored to its condition in 1952.
After the war there was a great demand for practical office and commercial space.
The Industriegebouw is 110 metres long and contains some 20,000 square metres of rental space. Broadly speaking, the building is U-shaped in plan with three tall, representative facades. Closing the U shape on Achterklooster at the rear are five low-rise halls. The building is cut by a service street that runs parallel with Goudsesingel. Showrooms and retail space originally occupied the ground floor, with commercial space on the four floors above. Located on the top floor were a canteen for personnel, a canteen for management, meeting spaces and four dwellings. The entrance lies on Goudsesingel. All spaces are accessed from galleries at the rear.
Showrooms and retail space originally occupied the ground floor, with commercial space on the four floors above.
The architectural design is typical of the period just after the war, in particular for Van Tijen. During the war years he had tried to bring together the rival camps of traditionalists from the Delft School and modernists from the Nieuwe Bouwen movement. With his ‘shake-hands’ idea, Van Tijen aimed for a marriage between brick and concrete, which is clearly visible here. The concrete skeleton of the building is visible on the facades, which are composed of brick, planes of glass set in steel frames, and concrete components. Concrete is applied decoratively, especially at roof level. The well-known architecture critic Rein Blijstra expressed a lot of criticism of the number of decorative elements and non-functional solutions, but was nonetheless enthusiastic about the building:
(…) it is exceptionally detailed, perhaps bordering too much on ‘beautiful’, almost arts and crafts, forced, yet sufficiently modest to totally seduce us every time.
But what is most remarkable is that indescribable atmosphere of work accepted by all. The workplaces are no hostile environment where people simply earn their wage so that they can really live in their scarce remaining hours. They are a part of life here, because it is a pleasant environment.
Het Vrije Volk 29-12-1952
In post-war Rotterdam the idea of collective housing was not just applied to businesses. The Lijnbaan, for example, is an example of collective retail accommodation. The concentration of school buildings in the Technikon, also designed by Maaskant, was less successful. Multi-tenant buildings were not only useful for sharing meeting rooms, canteens, entrance, porter and security. These facilities were also better and cheaper. Moreover, in a shared building the companies projected a better image and the amount of space was flexible. For many businesses a new building of their own was beyond their means.
Multi-tenant buildings were not only useful for sharing meeting rooms, canteens, entrance, porter and security. These facilities were also better and cheaper.
The Industriegebouw, just like the Groothandelsgebouw, has been a designated national monument since 1991. It was renovated between 2007 and 2010 by Van Rassel Architects. Part of the building is occupied by Vestia housing association.