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Marius Frans Duintjer

22-12-1908 - 02-05-1983

Marius Duintjer (1908-1983) is chiefly known as the architect of a couple of colossal office buildings in the heart of Amsterdam: the head office of De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB, The Dutch Bank) and the offices of the ABN Bank on the Vijzelstraat. He built a lot more than that, however, including two beautiful churches. His work can be categorised as an example of ‘shake hands architecture’, a combination of clean lines and the abstraction of modernism and traditional elements.

After studying architecture at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) in Zurich, Duintjer works at Le Corbusier’s firm in 1933, as did a number of other young architects at that time. The unprecedented possibilities of reinforced concrete come to form the basis of his work. Another visible influence is that of Frank Lloyd Wright, which can be seen in the powerful, horizontal, cantilevered floors and the large glass façades. Clear structures, open floor plans and careful detailing are characteristic of Duintjer’s work. As is his choice of natural materials such as wood, concrete and brick and his use of daylight.

Duintjer is not an adherent of the “Nieuwe Bouwen” style, but he does feel an affinity for its central ideas. His manner of building is functional, but his attitude is not dogmatic and certainly not anti-aesthetic. His work can be categorised as an example of ‘shake hands architecture’, a combination of clean lines and the abstraction of modernism and traditional elements; a meeting of concrete and brickwork, technology and design.

Duintjer’s name is often considered synonymous with large-scale buildings with a dubious reputation, like De Nederlandsche Bank on Frederiksplein and the ABN Offices on Vijzelstraat, both in the centre of Amsterdam Less well-known are the churches he built, which are highlights of modern architecture and examples of some of his best work. During the war, Duintjer was interred in three concentration camps. Brought up as no more than a passive adherent of the Dutch Reformed Church, he became more intensely involved in religion during this time. This could well have been one of the reasons he received a number of commissions to build churches after the war.  

Duintjer masters a whole range of typologies: he designs houses, offices, war monuments, urban developments, churches, schools, factories and hospitals. His most important works are created in the sixties, when the economy picked up again. He builds the main building of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the Nederlandsche Bank and the ABN offices in Amsterdam, provincial government buildings in Zwolle and Assen, the Christelijk Lyceum Buitenveldert school and the Andreas hospital in Amsterdam. They are all large buildings that were nonetheless open and accessible to the public. In this way, his work came to reflect the changes taking place in society in his days.

Among the buildings he designs for the government are the Town Hall in Arnhem (1954), the Oosterpoort Cultural Centre in Groningen (1955-1973), the administrative buildings of the provinces of Overijssel (1961-1972) and Drenthe (1968-1973) and a number of town halls and police stations. Duintjer also created a number of important designs for hospitals (including in Heerenveen, Breda, Doetinchem, Amsterdam, Drachten), mostly with D.J. Istha.

Marius Duintjer collaborates with such people as Auke Komter, D.J. Istha, Hein Salomonson and Kho Lliang Ie. In 1952, Duintjer enters into a partnership with D.J. Istha. In 1970, J.H. Kramer and T. van Willegen join the firm’s board. After the war, Duintjer becomes a tutor at the Institute of Architecture in Amsterdam, and from 1951 he joins the editorial team at Forum. As a member of the BNA, he has a seat on the board of Kring Amsterdam and is a member of the Roosenburg Group. From 1956-1963, he is a professor by special appointment at the department of Architecture at Delft University of Technology, and in 1958 he becomes a member of the Advisory Committee for the Restoration of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam.

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