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Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud

09-02-1890 - 05-04-1963

J.J.P. Oud (1890-1963) is counted among the seminal figures of Dutch architecture in the twentieth century. The residential developments Kiefhoek in Rotterdam South and the Witte Dorp in Rotterdam West are the apogee of Oud’s functionalist period.

Oud starts working independently in the construction sector at the age of sixteen. In 1913, when he establishes a practice in Leiden, he meets the painter Theo van Doesburg. Through van Doesburg Oud becomes involved in founding the magazine De Stijl in 1917. The facade of Café De Unie on the Coolsingel (1924) is entirely in the spirit of De Stijl.

In 1922, Oud distances himself from De Stijl, partly because of disagreements with Theo van Doesburg concerning the colour schemes for homes. Between 1924 and 1927 an apartment block is built in Hook of Holland: a long, white-plastered block with a flat roof and rounded ends. The residential developments Kiefhoek in Rotterdam South and the Witte Dorp in Rotterdam West are the apogee of Oud’s functionalist period. Oud’s residential projects receive great acclaim from Dutch and international architects alike. In 1927 he is honoured by being invited to design a block of houses on the Weißenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart, a model housing development for the Neue Sachlichkeit. Oud also designs the furnishings for his model home.

In 1926, as a private architect, Oud participates in a closed competition for a new stock exchange on Rotterdam’s Coolsingel. However, the building that is actually built, after a design by Staal (1934-1940) is uncannily similar to Oud’s plan. And, partly brought on by this defeat, Oud becomes prey to depression. In 1938 he wins a closed competition for the head office of the Bataafsche Import Maatschappij (BIM) in The Hague, which is know Shell. Although construction begins in 1939, the building will not be completed until 1946. The monumental, symmetrical composition and use of ornamentation represents a break with the philosophy of the Neue Sachlichkeit.

Just after the war, Oud and sculptor John Raedecker build the National Monument on the Dam in Amsterdam. And, with the Bio-Vakantieoord in Arnhem (1960) and the Congress Building in The Hague (1963) Oud somewhat regains his pre-war style and quality. Many of Oud’s buildings have since been designated as listed buildings.

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