Van Nelle Factory Overview (02:55)
Built between 1926 and 1931 by Jan Brickman and Leendert Van der Vlugt, the Van Nelle Factory is located along a Rotterdam canal. American architectural models inspired supervisor Kees Van der Leeuw. Buildings of varying heights processed coffee, tobacco and tea.
American Innovations (03:11)
Mechanized processing methods were imported from the U.S. and natural light from glass facades lit the factory. Reinforced concrete pillars were used to build on reclaimed land; supports homogenized with the floor to eliminate the need for beams.
Architectural Influences (02:23)
Business ceased in 1995; parts of the building are used for offices today. Bauhaus and Taylorism informed the design; a glass and aluminum curtain wall provides a machine look.
Iconic Industrial Architecture (03:20)
Prefabricated facade pieces can be opened to place diagonal walkways. External staircases balance three workshop building levels. Light, ceramic, and chrome finishes provide aesthetic appeal for workers.
Exterior Structures (02:36)
Architects used ceramic, glazing, and staircase shape to vary the exterior. Van der Leeuw emphasized hygiene and installed modern bathroom facilities, including drinking fountains—an American innovation.
Van Nelle Factory Offices (03:15)
Management structures are separate from the workshops. A curved space houses a mezzanine; employees were on display. The facade facing the railway suggests a ship's prow; hear Le Corbusier's architectural praises.
Supervisor Surveillance (02:16)
A partially buried corridor allowed managers to travel unseen and observe the factory floor. Ergonomic chairs were introduced from the U.S. and heated benches provided comfort to clients and suppliers.
Van Nelle Factory Hierarchy (05:10)
Blue delineated management areas and black and yellow were used on the factory floor. Turquoise pillars lead to a roof rotunda where Van der Leeuw observed the port and meditated. Today, the factory is preserved as a monument to industrial architecture.
Credits: The Van Nelle Factory at Rotterdam: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture (00:28)
Credits: The Van Nelle Factory at Rotterdam: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture
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