Segments in this Video

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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The Van Nelle Factory at Rotterdam: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture

Part of the Series : Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture
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Designed by the architects Jan Brickman and Leendert Van der Vlugt, supervised by Kees Van der Leuw, the boss of Van Nelle, the factory is the most important and the most accomplished example of industrial architecture in the modern movement. The result of a cross between Taylorism and Bauhaus, the Van Nelle factory at Rotterdam, built between 1926 and 1931, is a gigantic factory in which, up to the 80s, they processed tobacco, coffee and tea. Rather than a simple building, picture a great machine, a huge liner clad in glass and metal. The completely glazed facades expose the internal structure of the buildings and allowed the employees to work by daylight. Every step through lift wells, staircases and bridges was visible thanks to their glass walls - transparency was both a touch of style and a means of surveillance.

Length: 26 minutes

Item#: BVL94739

ISBN: 978-1-68272-103-2

Copyright date: ©2013

Closed Captioned

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