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Van Nelle Factory

Rotterdam, Netherlands
1 of 2

The Van Nelle Factory, built in 1925-31 for the refining and packing processes of coffee, tea and tobacco, is the result of a thorough analysis of technical functions of this specific factory (raw products were taken to the top floor of the factory buildings to move down a floor after each stage of processing) and of improving the social aspects ('human element') of working in a factory and also of an intensive co-operation between the principal (C.H. van der Leeuw, a confirmed theosophist) and the architects J.A. Brinkman (1902-1949) & L.C. van der Vlugt (1894-1936), assisted by architect Mart Stam (18991986) and contractor J.G. Wiebenga (1886-1974), all dedicated to the 'Nieuwe Bouwen' (the Dutch branch of the international Modern Movement). The block of buildings consists of a curved office block, a descending factory building (eight levels for the tobacco section, crowned by a circular tearoom (a reception room) and expanded at the back by a shed-roofed warehouse; five levels with a double-height entresol for the coffee section; three levels for the teasection), linked by glazed elevated transport bridges, diagonally crossing over the factory street, with expedition and warehouse buildings opposite; an L-shaped workshops/garage-building; a boilerhouse with an almost freestanding, profiled chimney. All buildings are constructed of reinforced concrete, steel and glass. Typical technical features are mushroom-shaped columns with the floors without beams, the curtain wall of steel-framed glass and the (originally mobile) glazed elevated transport bridges. Most of the original functionalism furnishing and parts of the original outdoor sporting and leisure facilities for the workers still exist.