Huig Maaskant

17-08-1907 - 27-05-1977

Hugh (or Huig) Aart Maaskant was one of the Netherlands’ foremost reconstruction architects, particularly for Rotterdam after World War II. He is also regarded as one of the first architects to focus on the aesthetic aspects of industrial buildings. Large scale, monumentality and massive details are typical of his buildings.

Maaskant built his most important works in Rotterdam. His Groothandelsgebouw, Lijnbaan flats, Hilton Hotel and Euromast would shape the image of the new Rotterdam to a large extent. Some of his other famous buildings in Rotterdam are the Adriaan Volkerhuis at Oostmaaslaan, the Verzamelgebouw Zuid at Zuidplein and Technikon school complex. Outside Rotterdam, Maaskant designed the Scheveningen Pier (1961), the Royal Dutch Football Association’s Sports Centre in Zeist (1965) and the Provincial Government Building in Den Bosch (1970).

Maaskant was born on 17 August 1907 in Rotterdam, where he studied architecture at the Academy of Visual Arts and Technical Sciences. In the early 1930s, Maaskant started his architectural career with Jos de Jonge (1887-1965), whose firm he quickly had to leave because of the economic crisis. In 1935, Maaskant joined Willem van Tijen (1894-1974), with whom he formed a company in 1937. They built mostly industrial and multi-tenanted business premises, the most well-known of which is the Groothandelsgebouw on Weena in Rotterdam.

During his time with Tijen, Maaskant was introduced to Nieuwe Bouwen (Modern Architecture). Van Tijen was a member of a Rotterdam group of architects called ‘de Opbouw’, a Dutch CIAM movement. He was part of the ideological mainstream of modern architecture, which put social housing first. Maaskant’s preference for industrial architecture over more socially oriented house-building was one of the reasons he broke with Van Tijen after 18 years.

After leaving Van Tijen in 1955, Maaskant ran his own architectural firm for five years. In 1960, he formed a company with his most valued employees, P.W. van Dommelen, J. Kroos and H. Senf. Under the name Maaskant Van Dommelen Kroos and Senf, this firm was to become one of the largest in the Netherlands. Besides the many industrial complexes and factories, such as Johnson Wax (Mijdrecht, 1966) and the Tomadoconcern (Dordrecht, 1958/1962; Etten-Leur, 1955), the firm also designed the Scheveningen Pier (1954/1958), the Euromast (Rotterdam, 1959), the Confectiecentrum (Amsterdam, 1968), the Technikon school complex (Rotterdam, 1970) and the Provincial Government Building in Den Bosch (1971).

Maaskant applied and geared new construction methods, techniques and typologies as much as possible to the development of the modern post-war city. In his designs, he typically used concrete and steel as building and cladding materials. Apart from that, his work is characterised by a strikingly expressive use of concrete. The construction is often visible on the outside. Maaskant used standard shapes in office and factory construction, and designed entire neighbourhoods with standard types of homes.

Besides working as an architect, Maaskant also sat on a number of committees. For example, he was one of the founders of Stichting Architecten Research, a teacher and later board member of the Rotterdam Art Academy, a member of the supervisory committee for architectural training in Rotterdam, a member of the executive board of the Royal Association of Dutch Architects, a member of the Building Aesthetics Board in Rotterdam, and a member of the advisory committee for a faculty of architecture at Eindhoven University of Technology.

In 1976, he established the Stichting Rotterdam Maaskant foundation: a biennial prize awarded to people or organisations ‘that have made a special contribution to the manifestation of architecture as a socio-cultural event.’ In the same year, Maaskant bid architecture farewell. He died one year later, on 27 May 1977. After his death and Kroos’ retirement, his firm was continued by J. van der Weerd.


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