Expressionist architecture

As part of my photography course we took a trip to the Heijplaat, a neighbourhood of Rotterdam with the appearance of small village on a peninsula in the middle of the port. The assignment was to take a series of black and white pictures that gave an impression of what the quarter must have looked like when it was recently built.

I like to prepare myself well for these assignments, so I plunged into the history of this part of the city in order to make a plan for my series. This is what I found.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the largest pre-WWII shipbuilding and repair company in Rotterdam, Rotterdamse Droogdok Maatschappij, ordered the architect H.A.J. Baanders to build a new district near the docks to house their employees.

It was a difficult time, so luxury was out of the question. Still the architect who belonged to the Amsterdam School, wanted to create houses that were attractive in order to uplift the spirits of its inhabitants. That is why he designed buildings with different shapes (rounded, organic), decorative masonry, wrought ironwork and integrated architectural sculpture.

In my photos I have tried to capture the characteristics of this architectural style. The sunlight was fierce, not ideal, but I took up the challenge and made use of the shadows as much as possible. I hope you like the result and get an idea of this interesting district.

In response to Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Buildings.

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11 thoughts on “Expressionist architecture

    • Yes, that was the idea, and it worked out well. What surprised me when I was walking around, was the peace and quiet of the district, and that in the middle of a big city. No wonder it is still a popular neighborhood.

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    • Thank you, Cee. It was fun taking them and I was even surprised that B&W photos of buildings gave such a satisfying result. That is why I like this challenge, so thank you for hosting it.

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    • Thank you, Helen. The whole project was fun, more so because of the history of the neighbourhood. For such assignments I always want to have a focus and the architecture offered me one. The district reminded me of a similar area in Eindhoven called the Philips village. The company also built small but affordable houses for their employees. Must go there some time.

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  1. I used to live in Hamilton inScotland where there was a huge Philips factory. I’d forgotten all about it.
    Photography projects and challenges are fun and don’t they just make us ” think out of the box” 😄

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    • You are right, Judith, having these background details helps to appreciate the buildings and to take the pictures, especially when you are composing a series. I really liked this idea of making a series, so I plan to do this more often.

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