Willem Dudok: Meet the Father of Dutch Modernism

Willem Marinus Dudok (6 July 1884 - 6 July 1974) was one of The Netherlands' most influential Modernist architects. Formally trained as an engineer, Dudok spent his formative years designing military barracks for the Dutch forces, and his time with the military has been credited with the development of his early linear style, though he was known to borrow elements from Frank Lloyd Wright's prairie school of architecture. Dudok's architectural legacy is undeniable: with a career spanning several decades, his portfolio encompasses nearly all civic buildings in Hilversum, along with a series of projects in Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Paris, among others.

More than forty years after Dudok's death, Dutch journalist Peter Veenendaal has produced two videos documenting the architect's best projects, both in Hilversum: Town Hall and the Sports Grandstand. Serving as sequels to Veenendaal's documentary "City of Light" which delved into Dudok's design for retailer De Bijenkorf in Rotterdam, the videos highlight Dudok's impressive eye for form and linearity.

Check out Veenendaal's videos and find out more about Dudok's influential architecture after the break 

Trained at the Royal Military Academy in Breda, Dudok developed an interest in design through the creation of stylized military facilities. After a decade-long career with the military, Dudok was appointed municipal architect for the city of Hilversum, located adjacent his native Amsterdam, where he designed and oversaw the construction of numerous major municipal projects. Hilversum's landscape was largely defined by Dudok's work, with realized projects ranging from an array of modernist schools to a series of small civic buildings and monuments.

During his time working for the city of Hilversum, Dudok also pursued private practice, designing the first Rotterdam location for Dutch department store De Bijenkorf, though the store would ultimately be destroyed during the Second World War. Additional projects realized through private practice included the College Neerlandais at Cité Universitaire in Paris, a series of Exxon gas stations throughout the Netherlands, the Utrecht City Theatre, and a residential tower known as Erasmus Huis in central Rotterdam.

Dudok Cafe, located inside a Dudok-designed building in Rotterdam. Used under Creative Commons. Image © Flickr CC user cak-cak, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A pioneer of form-driven Dutch modernism, Dudok's architecture was influenced by Hendrik Petrus Berlage, namesake of The Berlage Institute, and would later influence designs by modernists across the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Dudok employed a style of massing guided by delineations in architectural program, foreshadowing what has since become the preferred design method for Dutch architects nationwide. Dudok was also celebrated worldwide, most notably as recipient of the prestigious the RIBA Gold Medal in 1935 and the AIA Gold Medal in 1955.

Now, with the assistance of Veenendaal's videos, take a closer look at two remaining examples of Dudok's signature styles. Explore the Wright-derived Dutch incarnation of prairie school architecture exemplified by Hilversum Town Hall and then enter the ostentatious colourful Sports Grandstand used during the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, Great Buildings

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Cite: Finn MacLeod. "Willem Dudok: Meet the Father of Dutch Modernism" 22 Nov 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/777559/willem-dudok-meet-the-father-of-dutch-modernism> ISSN 0719-8884

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