Façades of The Hague #138

Seven blocks of flats along 2de Sweelinckstraat, Lübeckstraat, Valeriusstraat, Stadhouderslaan and Stadhoudersplantsoen.

Designed by Jan Wils (1891-1972), they were built in the 1950s.

The German occupation left deep scars in The Hague.

The building by the Germans of the Atlantic Wall (the Antlantikwall) along the western European coast left one of the most significant scars still visible today.

Parts of the western suburbs of the city were demolished by order of the Germans for the building of the defensive wall.

Not just the houses were destroyed, social and suburban structures were erased too.

Part of the project was a deep anti-tank-trench which ran amongst others through the present Stadhoudersplantsoen.

After the Germans left, different plans were made to rebuild the area.

A plan by architect and urban planner Willem Dudok (1884-1974) to restructure the area was taken as the base for renewal.

Dudok, of course, was a famous modern architect in the Netherlands.

Architect of the wonderful and still functioning Hilversum Town Hall, he was also renowned for his achievements in urban planning already before the War.

Dudok however didn’t design any of the new buildings in this area when restructuring post-war The Hague.

Jan Wils was one of the architects who made designs for the new buildings.

Wils, during his long career, started out with Jugenstil.

When he was in his twenties he moved to The Hague where he worked for Hendrik Petrus Berlage, probably the most influential Dutch architect during the Interwar period, and responsible, amongst others, for the design of the (nearby) Gemeentemuseum, now Kunstmuseum.

Through Berlage he discovered the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, which had a great influence on him.

Wright’s work strengthened his idea that man and his surroundings should be central in architecture and not architecture itself.

For a short time he was associated with Theo van Doesburg and De Stijl.

Already before WWII he was engaged in social housing construction and designing residential buildings in general.

As such he is seen as one of the founders of the so-called Nieuwe Haagse School (New Hague School).

Therefore the choice of Wils as one of the architects for the restructuring of this area was obvious.

His low blocks of flats in a lush green area, were a clear modernist break with the original 19th century idea of chic façades along the street with private backyards and very limited public space.

© Villa Next Door 2021

All pictures were taken in March 2020.

Bertus Pieters

Façades of The Hague from #72 onwards: https://villanextdoor2.wordpress.com/category/facades-of-the-hague/

Façades of The Hague #1 – 71: https://villanextdoor.wordpress.com/category/facades-of-the-hague/

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