Key projects by Herman Hertzberger

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Key projects by Herman Hertzberger

Here's a selection of projects by Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger, who was named as this year's Royal Gold Medal recipient this morning.

Montessori School, Delft (1960-66)

Top: portrait by Hans van den Bogaard
Above: Montessori School, Delft (1960-66), photograph is by Johan van der Keuken

Hertzberger will receive the prize in February 2012 - more details in our earlier Dezeen Wire story.

Montessori School, Delft (1960-66)

Above: Montessori School, Delft (1960-66), photograph is by Herman van Doorn

Here's Hertzberger's biography from the RIBA:


Born in 1932 Herman Hertzberger opened his own firm of architects in 1960, the present-day Architectuurstudio HH in Amsterdam. One of his major influences on 20th century architecture was to challenge the early modernist belief that ‘form follows function’ - that the shape of the building was defined by its purpose.

Lin Mij (textile workshop) Amsterdam (1962-64 – demolished)

Above: Lin Mij Textile Workshop, Amsterdam (1962-64), demolished, photograph is by Jan Versnel

Hertzberger believes that the core function of a building does not provide the total solution to space usage: it is a framework that should enable its users to interpret and define how they inhabit it.

Lin Mij (textile workshop) Amsterdam (1962-64 – demolished)

Above: Lin Mij Textile Workshop, Amsterdam (1962-64), demolished, photograph is by Jan Versnel

His buildings offer flexible ‘in between’ spaces that encourage our deeper human needs of dwelling and social activity.

Centraal Beheer Apeldoorn (1968-72)

Above: Centraal Beheer Apeldoorn (1968-72), photograph is by Aviodrome Luchtfotografie

His celebrated Montessori School in Delft (1960-66) rethought the way that classrooms were laid out, with L-shaped rooms creating different zones.

Centraal Beheer Apeldoorn (1968-72)

Above: Centraal Beheer Apeldoorn (1968-72), photograph is by Willem Diepraam

Images of children playing and learning on broad wooden steps as a creative space inspired many architects of schools across northern Europe.

Centraal Beheer Apeldoorn (1968-72)

Above: Centraal Beheer Apeldoorn (1968-72), photograph is by Willem Diepraam

His exemplary workplace Central Baheer in Apeldoorn (1968-72) was designed with the needs of the individual at its core and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment in The Hague (1979-90) was one of the first buildings to develop the idea of the internal street or elongated atrium to encourage social interaction and get light into all the rooms.

Diagoon Housing, Delft (1969-70)

Above: Diagoon Housing, Delft (1969-70)

Apolloscholen, Amsterdam (1980-83)

Above: Apolloscholen, Amsterdam (1980-83), photograph is by Frits Dijkhof

Apolloscholen, Amsterdam (1980-83)

Above: Apolloscholen, Amsterdam (1980-83)

YKK Dormitory, Kurobe, Japan (1991-98)

Above: YKK Dormitory, Kurobe, Japan (1991-98)

YKK Dormitory, Kurobe, Japan (1991-98)

Above: YKK Dormitory, Kurobe, Japan (1991-98)

Chasse Concert Hall, Breda (1992-95)

Above: Chasse Concert Hall, Breda (1992-95), photograph is by Herman van Doorn

Chasse Concert Hall, Breda (1992-95)

Above: Chasse Concert Hall, Breda (1992-95), photograph is by Herman van Doorn

Waternet Head Office, Amsterdam (2000-05)

Above: Waternet Head Office, Amsterdam (2000-05), photograph is by Duccio Malagamba

Waternet Head Office, Amsterdam (2000-05)

Above: Waternet Head Office, Amsterdam (2000-05), photograph is by Duccio Malagamba

Media Park and Housing Cologne, Germany (2004-04)

Above: Media Park & Housing Cologne, Germany (2004-04), photgraph is by Duccio Malagamba

NHL University Leeuwarden (2004-10)

Above: NHL University Leeuwarden (2004-10), photograph is by John Lewis Marshall

NHL University Leeuwarden (2004-10)

Above: NHL University Leeuwarden (2004-10), photograph is by John Lewis Marshall

NHL University Leeuwarden (2004-10)

Above: NHL University Leeuwarden (2004-10)

Coda Shelter for Culture (museum) Apeldoorn (2004-11)

Above: Coda Shelter for Culture (museum) Apeldoorn (2004-11), photograph is by Herman van Doorn

Coda Shelter for Culture (museum) Apeldoorn (2004-11)

Above: Coda Shelter for Culture (museum) Apeldoorn (2004-11), photograph is by Herman van Doorn

Faculty of Science University of Utrecht (2006-11)

Above: Faculty of Science University of Utrecht (2006-11)

Faculty of Science University of Utrecht (2006-11)

Above: Faculty of Science University of Utrecht (2006-11), photograph is by Rob Hoekstra

  • Velma

    Go Mr. Hertzberger! I am so glad my Dean introduced me to your work while I was in school! You are still such an inspiration! Congratulations!!!

  • Shmuck

    Lovey Mr Hertzberger! Truly lovely! Congratulations.

  • DeeDee

    Hertzberger is very good architect than Rem Koolhaas, because he loves the architecture.

  • Dickie Smaber

    I don'get this.

    Maybe he did some interesting things back in the '60's/'70's but even that I doubt. Ever since he just made lousy buildings. What's wrong with everybody? If you see the list of Royal Medal winners you'll see names of like Mies van der Rohe, Garnier and Koolhaas. No way Herzberger should be anywhere near these people.

    Please all, forget Herzberger and his 'daddy' Van Eyck, there's much more interesting architecture to study.

  • hmm

    Dear Dickie Smaber,

    Hertzber's buildings and thoughts about architecture are more than inspiring. it is disrespectful to say that he "just made lousy buildings". Read some of his books, they should open your narrow mind.

    • Dickie Smaber

      Dear hmm,

      Actually I did read some of his books (amongst others his 'Lessons for students in architecture' series which are full of snapshots of his vacations in France in the 1960's). And I have studied architecture at Delft University of Technology where he was longtime professor and influential on many of my teachers (I had to analyse and visit many of his projects) so somehow that makes me at least a little acquainted with his work.

      But let me explain why I don't think his work is up the par with the other Golden Medal winners.

      As Carel Weeber (another noted professor at Delft University) mentioned quite rightly; 'you cannot live in bullshit'. So architects can write as much and fancy as they want, that doesn't make them good architects. At best it makes them writers, interesting thinkers or sweet dreamers. So I think an architect should be judged on what he builds. I feel, and I think the sequence of images above also show it, this is nowhere near the quality of (again), Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn or Herzog de Meuron. To be honest; I think it gets worse and worse. Just take a look at the Faculty of Science of the Utrecht University; its the type of fashionable architecture offices like RAU produce (and in a better way). The same goes for the NHL University in Groningen; nothing special here.

      Another reason; architecture is about connecting different materials in such a way that definable space aris. Just visit some of his buildings. Or, if you're not able to, search flickr.com and you will see that he is not able to do this rightly. Mies (winner in 1959) was the master of this. Kahn (1972) was able to reach the poetic in his handling of material and space. and Garnier (another winner in 1886) showed it magnificently in his Paris opera. But Hertzberger? Just go and see for yourself; it's just a mumbo-jumbo of different materials and products which clash to make one feel awkward.

      So is it disrespectful? Surely. But not to mr. Herzberger. Rather it is disrespectful to many of the previous winners to award this old and honourful prize to an architect who might have wrote some interesting books but was able to built only one building which might survive more that 100 hundred years in architectural history.

      • Jasper

        I think there can be a difference in opinion in what makes good architecture, of course you can argue that architecture is about making the building the art of connecting materials etc… Like the examples you mentioned before, Kahn, Mies etc. I mean the buildings they have made are fantastic, but you surely they are merely works of art than buildings to work and live in.

        I find this quite fascinating and stunning that we as architects don't think much about it, that buildings are meant to be for people to live in. And on this aspect, Hertzberger is one of the few who succeeds in bringing in social and interaction spaces that actually work. For his schools and many of his early work it creates buildings that don't dominate, but people enjoy working and learning in it, because it provides spaces for interaction and play. Also I don't think it is really fair to compare Garnier with for at that time a budget in which he could do everything, with mr. Hertzberger which has to fit everything in a tight budget. Hertzberger focuses on the inside of the building for the joy of people instead of the detailing outside, that's his choice. I am not saying that I like the way his buildings look, but I can see very well transversing through the spaces he made, the ideas that he is mentioning in his book.
        But to say his work is disrespectful to the prize, I don't agree at all. I mean Koolhaas has won the award as well and has also done a lot of shitty detailing in his early work. So no sorry, Dickie, although we are from the same faculty of Architecture in Delft, I don't agree with you.
        I have had to pleasure to meet him and work with him on several occasions, and I congratulate him with the prize.

      • DeeDee

        You among themselves have been shooting from your neck.

  • DeeDee

    I mean: my reaction is for Dickie Smaber.

  • double dickie

    @dickie smaber: reading books doesn’t make one a good architect. HH is a designer of social spaces, where people want to be -hopefully. people do not reside in architecture books.

    your tud frustrations frustrate an open mind.

    not all of the buildings HH designed are masterpieces (you refer to Mies and Kahn e.g.). if you take a look at the list of RGM winners; half of the list aren’t masters. maybe it says more about the jury. btw mies couldn’t make a corner. look at his US skyscrapers.

  • Ben Dover

    @double dickie,

    Mr. Herzberger is known for his interest and focus on making places where people meet. If you look at some of his buildings they're full of these small nooks and niches for people to meet. But if you look at how they're used in everyday it turnes out they're places to pee, puge or sleep (if you're homeless). Just take a look at his Muziekcentrum Vredeburg in Utrecht. It just didn't work. People felt unsafe and it worked as a public toilet. So no, although all the good intentions of mr. Hertzberger, people didn't necessary wanted to be in his buildings. At least not more than they wanted to be in any building.

    In regard to your remark about Mies van der Rohe's corners; just study the corners of classical architecture and you'll see you're wrong.

    • Julius Jääskeläinen

      Your point is a good one, and one the "socially minded" architects of the 60's and 70's helped us to see through their failed attempts: That architecture alone can not give birth to a happy society. Unlike Le Corbusier claimed, Architecture is not a substitute for a revolution. Architecture alone can not supply an answer to the fundamentally political question of people being alienated from the social world; a symptom of which is behaving in the anti-social ways that you described.