2016 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize winner announced
November 20, 2016
The World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize is awarded biennially to individuals or organizations working to preserve our Modern built heritage. This year’s prize goes to the team who led the preservation and rehabilitation of the Justus van Effen complex in Rotterdam, the Netherlands: Molenaar & Co. architecten, Hebly Theunissen architecten, and landscape architect Michael van Gessel.
The complex was commissioned in 1919 by Rotterdam’s municipal housing authority in response to the need for housing following World War I. Architect Michiel Brinkman proposed a project that reflected Modernist design and principles, including cantilevered walkways centered around a courtyard and areas for laundry, bathing, and community gatherings. While there was initial pushback to this newly emerging style, it was eventually approved by the city council and the building was completed in 1922.
In the 1970s, the Spangen neighborhood where the complex is located began to decline and the site suffered from neglect and ill-advised modifications. As the decades went on, the future of the site was in question. In 2006, owner Woonstad Rotterdam committed to a full-scale restoration and renovation, giving the site a new lease on life and making it a Modern preservation success story.