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Studio houses

These residential/work units at Zomerdijkstraat were the first complex of studio houses in the Netherlands. Inexpensive but effective, these studio houses were geared to what artists needed: a high working space with high level north light, and a place to cook and sleep.

The foremost aim was to create good, affordable workspaces for artists. Because the council forbade the building of such basic studios without houses, they built studio houses, and for the simple reason that serial production was cheaper, an entire complex was built. This type of building was never replicated by others in the Netherlands.

It is a uniformly built, free-standing block of houses with six residential layers facing south and four layers with studios, facing north. The difference in height between the living areas and the studios makes it possible to vary between small houses with one floor and larger ones with two floors. After the Rotterdam Bergpolderflat, this was the second housing project in which a steel frame was used.

The crisp design of the building and the bands of windows in rows did not obviously harmonise with the surroundings: the complex is right in the middle of Berlage's Plan Zuid, architecture of the Amsterdam School. Arthur Staal described what effect this confrontation had: "Between many blemishes, the studio houses look even more flawless: sober, beautiful and true." “

Zanstra was one of the more moderate functionalists of Groep '32, who combined business-like architecture with artistic elements. Form does not stem from the building's function alone, it has a value and a beauty of its own. In this case, that can be seen in the rounded-off doors and the circle-shaped windows in the side wall.

The building was constructed at a time of economic crisis and its completion was possible because of the sobriety of the design and the "self-build" (private commissioning) option. The firm of Zanstra, Giesen en Sijmons commissioned the work itself.


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