The tall block of flats constructed by Volkers Bouwmij on the corner of Westzeedijk and Kievitslaan is nearing completion. All fifty flats are scheduled to be finished by August. Half of them have already been sold. Designed by architect E.F. Groosman, the building perfectly terminates Westzeedijk here. Twelve of the fourteen floors contain apartments. On the ground floor are storage spaces and garages, and the roof features a covered terrace, from where all the building’s residents can enjoy the panoramic view of the River Maas.
Het Vrije Volk, 31 May 1958
Gallery access or maisonette?
The design of this apartment building on the corner of Westzeedijk and Kievitslaan was a complicated and protracted process. Developer NV Nassaulaan and architect Groosman conducted lengthy negotiations with the city concerning the size and shape of the building. In its urban plan for the area, the city had initially envisaged a four-floor building to align with the building height along Westzeedijk. But when the young architect Ernest Groosman (1917-1999) was commissioned in 1949 to design a residential building on the site, he saw potential for a much taller structure: ‘Many people could enjoy the wonderful views of the park and the river.’ Pending the results of the discussions with the city, various proposals were sketched, among them a block of maisonettes and a gallery-access building. During this phase of development the project was acquired by a pension fund. The building was finally completed by Reinder Zwolsman, a property developer from The Hague.
World with a view
The definitive design from 1954 does not feature access galleries but shared staircases. Each of the two vertical access points, containing a lift and a staircase, serves two apartments on each level. The apartments vary in size. Each of the twelve residential floors contains two four-room apartments, one three-room apartment and one five-room apartment, varying in size from 85 to 154 square metres. All apartments enjoy a view of the park. Groosman: ‘Here you do not live on a street, avenue or road. Here you live in the world.’
The transition in scale to the lower buildings along Westzeedijk is achieved with a low-rise block containing two gatekeeper’s flats. Beneath this volume is the gateway to the outdoor parking spaces at the rear of the site. Indoor parking spaces are located in the basement and on part of the ground floor.
A strikingly beautiful apartment block has appeared on the corner of Westzeedijk and Kievitslaan. Rightly called “Parkflat", because it is located in the charming vicinity of the Maaspark and the old, verdant gardens of the villas along Parklaan. Yet although trees surround the building on three sides, residents need not feel isolated, for they have the busy Westzeedijk in front of them and enjoy magnificent views over the treetops towards the river and, on clear days, even the sea.
De Maasstad, 1958-5 p.147
The building is constructed of reinforced concrete. It is a slightly more luxurious version of the Dutch post-war ‘MUWI’ construction system where the concrete slab floors are visible on the facade. The concrete stabilizing walls are faced in brown brickwork on the facade. The concrete structure visible on the facade is painted. The exposed concrete on the ground floor is untreated, while the concrete wall beside the main entrance features an abstract artwork entitled ‘Fish’, by Wim van der Weerd (1913-1996). The main entrance is positioned at the short end of the building on Westzeedijk. On the ground floor is a spacious entrance hall with a natural stone floor. The largely covered terrace overlooking Park Schoonoord features a mural of stylized birds.
The roof terrace is accessible to residents only. Each apartment also contains a loggia. A number of balconies also enliven the facade composition.
The apartments have glazed fronts and were fitted with what at the time were the latest conveniences: central heating, central antenna system, modern luxury Bruynzeel kitchen and bathtub. The apartments were celebrated for their luxuriousness and were mostly purchased by affluent people. These were not rental but owner-occupied apartments, made possible by a change in law that facilitated horizontal ownership unbundling from 1955 on.
The price of these apartments is substantial; they cost:
three-room unit f 47,600
four-room unit f 57,600
five-room unit f 72,600
Yet they also offer the highest imaginable level of comfort, while the attractive surroundings are also a factor of significance.
De Maasstad, 1958-5 p.147
The first pile was driven into the ground on 16 December 1955, and the building was completed in the summer of 1958 and ready to welcome the first residents. From the start it was home to many well-known Rotterdammers, among them Jacob Mees, who had sold Villa Schoonoord, Bram van Leeuwen (known as the Prince of Lignac), director of the Keurkoop mail-order firm and a big language school, architect Jaap Bakema and museum director Wim Crouwel.
The building is now regarded as the highlight of Groosman’s extensive body of work. Meanwhile it has gained a protected status as a heritage structure and current residents value the monumental qualities of the building. The roof terrace is still in use, especially for the annual summer party. Most of the apartment interiors have been thoroughly renovated.