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Essay on The Van Nelle Factory in Rotterdam is a Piece of Architecture

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At the turn of the 20th century, a new style of modern architecture was formed through the development of new building types, materials, and construction techniques from the 2nd Industrial Revolution. With modern inventions and advancements in technology came a shift in the working environment of the industrial fields, for example unsatisfactory working conditions due to long hours in a dark and unclean atmosphere. Designers J.A. Brinkman and L.C. Van der Vlugt embarked on the new ideology of developing a better working experience through the architectural design of a utilitarian space. The Van Nelle Factory in Rotterdam became an icon of modern architecture by fashioning a design relationship between functionalism and progressivism to generate a solution to the poor working environments by implementing light, air, and space with the use of new structural methods and materials all while designing for the purpose of the building.
The Van Nelle Factory is a coffee, tea, and tobacco company located in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Commissioned by Chairman Kees van der Leeuw, construction of the building began in 1925 and was forced to completion in 1931. J.A. Brinkman, a civil engineer whose father was the original planned architect for this project, formed a union with well-known architect L.C. van der Vlugt to continue the project after his father’s sudden death.
The concept behind the new buildings for the factory was to explore options of design that focused not only on the program of the factory, but to also consider the emotional and physical needs of the labor force. While J.A. Brinkman is considered one of the designers for the Van Nelle Factory, architect L. C. van der Vlugt and Chairman Kees van der Leeuw were a stronger inf...


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...skin seems as if it is separated from the skeleton and the building easily disappears into the sky.
The success of the Van Nelle Factory as an icon of modern architecture was due to its functional design concepts fused with the principles of progressivism and idealistic concepts. The flexible interior, the large amounts of penetrating light, the elegance of clean and healthy functionalism, and the weightless mass were the strongest attributes for the complex. With Brinkman’s, Van der Vlugt’s, and Van der Leeuw’s combined education of modern architecture they were able to employ their design ideologies to create one of the most renowned factories in Europe. Paul Bromberg wrote that the Dutch architects soon “… realize[d] that even the most utilitarian buildings can and should be beautiful. Building should always be architecture, even when it is ‘only’ a factory.”



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