Ton Alberts

06-07-1927 - 16-08-1999

Ton Alberts (1927-1999) is almost the personification of organic architecture in the Netherlands. With buildings like the headquarters of the former NMB-bank (1979-1987) in Amsterdam and that of Gasunie (1994) in Groningen he creates, whether or not in association with Max van Huut (1947), true monuments that appeal to a broad public.

Alberts completes his studies at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris and at the Academie van Bouwkunst in Amsterdam. He founds his own firm of architects in 1962 and concentrates on organic architecture from the very beginning. He finds free shapes more inspiring than cubes and right angles. To Alberts, geometric shapes are no more functional than organic ones. 

For a long number of years, he works predominantly on smaller projects until asked to design the main offices of the former NMB-bank (now ING) in Amsterdam at the end of the 1970s. Inside, the walls may be askew but the spaces are highly functional. What’s more, the building is extremely low-energy. In 1987 Max van Huut joins Alberts’ firm. The architect duo of Alberts & Van Huut are seen as representing organic architecture with an anthroposophical leaning. 

With a structure for the Dutch gas board, Gasunie, in Groningen that resembles the NMB building, Alberts & Van Huut establish their reputation with the public at large. However, criticism of organic design is beginning to be voiced by colleagues and critics who feel it will inspire too many clones of the NMB building. Nonetheless, the firm of Alberts & Van Huut continues to enjoy commercial success. Despite their unusual forms their buildings are always functional and efficient and meet the commercial specifications for offices, sporting facilities, theatres, education institutions and housing. In 1994, Marius Ballieux also joins the firm and has been architect and co-director of the company since 2001.

A contest to choose the most attractive building, organised by the Dutch daily paper Trouw proves that the public hold organic architecture in high regard. In June 2007, the Gasunie headquarters was voted most beautiful building in the Netherlands, with the headquarters of the ING coming in at third place. 

Ton Alberts dies in 1999 at the age of 72 in Amsterdam.


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