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J.J.P. Oud

Purmerend 1890 - Wassenaar 1963

Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud began his architectural career building houses for family members in Purmerend, but soon developed an international reputation; he was especially esteemed in Germany in the 1920s. This reputation was based on the social housing that Oud designed for Rotterdam City Council between 1918 and 1933, including blocks of flats in Spangen and de Kiefhoek. These early designs are characterised by simple forms, the rejection of ornament and references to the past, and an interest in industrial construction techniques. Oud later returned to traditional building materials and the use of decoration, for example in the BIM/Shell office building in The Hague, a change that was met with harsh criticism from advocates of modernism.
Oud was associated with the functionalist movement for a time and was briefly a member of De Stijl, the Congrès internationaux d’architecture moderne (CIAM) and the Rotterdam-based association, Opbouw. The omission of decoration, which was important to these movements, the geometric forms of De Stijl and the emphasis on standardisation in functionalist architecture fitted with Oud’s ideals. Ultimately, however, he always opted for his own course, one characterised by diversity: Oud designed corporate buildings, monuments, civic buildings and even interiors and furniture. This latter aspect was perhaps not always closest to his heart, as is clear from a letter in which he states that when you dream of building grand projects, it is not always interesting to design the smallest elements. Nonetheless, he did turn his attention to these more modest items: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s collection features several beautiful items of furniture designed by Oud.

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