K.J. Greiner

06-11-1891 - 11-11-1964

Karel Jacobus (Dick) Greiner is known primarily for his contribution to the construction of Betondorp (a residential area built of concrete) in Watergraafsmeer, Amsterdam. His fondness for craftsmanship and design is easily recognisable, as is the importance he attached to practical and functional construction.

Greiner is an all but complete autodidact. After completing vocational school, he works as a carpenter for some years, and in 1918 he enrolls in an advanced course in architecture in Amsterdam, graduating with honours in 1922. During his studies he works as a draughtsman and supervisor for E. Cuypers, F.A. Warners, J. Gratama and G. Versteeg. In March 1920 he sets himself up as architect in Amsterdam.

In the 1920s Greiner becomes involved in the construction of Betondorp in Amsterdam, where he builds some two hundred dwellings. In the following years, he designs blocks of flats, among which the ‘Zonnehof’ flats on Milletstraat and Courbetstraat in Amsterdam. He also designs several schools including the Huishoud- en Industrieschool (school for domestic and technical science) in Haarlem.

Greiner’s true specialisation is constructing, refurbishing and designing the interior of cinemas, theatres and cafes, for which he is awarded countless contracts in Amsterdam, Vlissingen, Amstelveen, Rotterdam, Waalwijk, Schiphol and The Hague before and after the Second World War.

During the war he is involved in rebuilding Yerseke and Middelburg, both having been destroyed as a result of war. Among the projects that are not carried out are the competition entries for the synagogue in Lekstraat in 1935, for the town hall in Amsterdam in 1937 and a plan for converting Amsterdam Central Station in 1947.

Over the years Greiner employs various building styles; relying originally on the Amsterdam School, his early designs, and then his furniture designs in particular, reveal specific details of the ‘Amsterdam School’. Later his work reflects the influence of Dudok and a moderate Functionalism. Greiner believes that a house has to be practically furnished, and more than anything you have to be able to live in it. Design, one of Greiner’s strongest features, comes second, functionality first, which means that despite his admiration of the Amsterdam School, he also has objections to it. He finds M. de Klerk’s buildings splendid but impractical and describes Piet Kramer (1881-1961) as brilliant, gifted and a bit odd. He has the greatest admiration for Duiker (1890-1935), Van Loghem (1881-1940), J.J.P. Oud (1890-1963) and American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.


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