Blind people marched festively along the new and still so bare Kipstraat. Most of them did not know what it looked like between Groenendaal and Hoogstraat, but they were delighted all the same. For they heard the piling hammer hissing, heard how the block hit the concrete pile for the first time. And they knew that the pile had been hit for them. This is the site of their new work institution.
Het Vrije Volk 05-03-1951
Building for 160 men and 35 women
The ‘Work Institution for Blind People in Need’ was a society set up in 1851. From 1892 on it was located in a building of its own on Van der Duynstraat. Initially the blind workers only made bundles of firewood, but later they wove seats for chairs and made brushes, mats and baskets. After the institution was destroyed by the bombardment, the workers could temporarily use an area half the size in the J.A.C. van Rossems Tobacco Factory. In 1951 the first pile of a new building was rammed into the ground, and it was officially opened on 19 March 1953. A short time later Queen Juliana visited the new building.
The building was intended for about 160 men and 35 women.
The building was intended for about 160 men and 35 women. The tall volume at the front contained a ground floor and three upper levels. A hall and a shop with three display windows occupied the ground floor. The second floor contained the women’s hall, some offices and a concierge’s home, and the third floor was rented to tenants. An elongated one-level central section contained three identically sized workspaces for men for brush-making, basket weaving and mat weaving. These workspaces were separated by one-metre-tall walls. Located on the ground floor of the rear volume were a cloakroom, garage, washroom and bathing area containing showers and bathroom, spaces for deliveries, basement storage and, above, some twenty kennels for guide dogs. The central section where the workspaces were located, is covered by a roof of glazed bricks that spans the entire space.
The building is a design by the Rotterdam architecture office of Vermeer & Van Herwaarden. Willem Vermeer (1908-1993) and Isaac van Herwaarden (1903-1985) were particularly productive during the post-war reconstruction period. It was a reliable office that gradually steered away from traditionalism and started to adopt a more functional approach. The Institute for the Blind looks extremely traditional owing to the combination of hand-made red brick, Norwegian granite and compact concrete frames and sculpture. Rotterdam sculptor Han Rehm (1908-1970) made twelve facade stones with symbolic meanings. The upper ones depict mankind, wisdom, power, beauty, light and darkness, and the lower ones are figures that are of assistance to blind people on the street: a boy scout, a guide dog, a street kid, an intellectual and a nurse. Three female figures are placed above the entrance.
The Institute for the Blind looks extremely traditional owing to the combination of hand-made red brick, Norwegian granite and compact concrete frames and sculpture.
A modern, fresh building, adapted to new ideas that reflect how people think about the needs of blind people in our society.
Het Vrije Volk 19-03-1953
The Institute for the Blind closed in the late 1980s, and the Venue Auction House moved into it in 1991. Broekbakema, the office previously called Van den Broek and Bakema, converted the designated municipal monument into an auction house for art, rarities and houses.