2016 WMF/Knoll Modernism Prize Announced

John Hill
9. November 2016
Photo: Molenaar & Co. architecten/Bas Kooij

Molenaar & Co. architecten, Hebly Theunissen architecten, and landscape architect Michael van Gessel are the recipients of the 2016 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize for the preservation and rehabilitation of the Justus van Effen complex in Rotterdam.

The Justus van Effen complex was designed by Michiel Brinkman and completed in 1922. Although not as well known as, for instance, Michel de Klerk's Het Schip worker's housing in Amsterdam (1920), Brinkman's social housing was influential in its time, particularly through the elevated "streets" that WMF and Knoll describe in a statement as "a means of facilitating social cohesion."

Photo: Molenaar & Co. architecten/Bas Kooij

Justus van Effen is located in Rotterdam's Spangen neighborhood, which was rundown and dangerous in the 1980s and 90s but is enjoying a resurgence this century. Per the WMF/Knoll statement, "The project, which addresses all levels, from the building fabric to the public and urban domain, also reflects the commitment of the owner, Woonstad Rotterdam, to ensuring the future of the complex for future generations." Originally consisting of 261 dwellings, the restored project is made up of 154 units in a variety of layouts and sizes.

Photos taken in 2005, before restoration (Photos: Hebly Theunissen architecten)

The jury* citation:

The Justus van Effen complex reminds us that in fact housing can be a significant architectural and civic monument and not simply a matter of providing living space for occupants. It recognizes that ascribing architectural qualities to housing is a civic act, creating urban values for residents and citizens of the city as a whole. This combination of a noble original intent, a sensitive rehabilitation, and now—we hope—international recognition of the vital role of housing in making the modern city, makes this project triply commendable. 

Photo taken in 2016, after restoration (Photo: Molenaar & Co. architecten/Bas Kooij)

The biennial award will be presented at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York on 5 December 2016. The award presentation is a free and public event (RSVP by 28 November) that will be followed by a presentation by the members of the prize-winning team.

Photo: Molenaar & Co. architecten/Bas Kooij

*The jury for the 2016 award was chaired by Barry Bergdoll, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, Curator of Architecture & Design at MoMA, and included Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture at New York University; Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture at Columbia University; Dietrich Neumann, Professor of the History of Modern Architecture and the Director of Urban Studies, Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Brown University; Susan Macdonald, Head of Buildings and Sites at the Getty Conservation Institute; Theo Prudon, president of DOCOMOMO/US; and Karen Stein, architectural critic, advisor, and Executive Director of the George Nelson Foundation. 

Photo: Molenaar & Co. architecten/Bas Kooij

Past winners of the World Monuments Fun/Knoll Modernism Prize, which was established in 2008, are:

  • 2008: Brenne Gesellschaft von Architekten mbH, headed by Winfriend Brenne and Franz Jaschke, for the restoration of the Bauhaus-desinged ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau, Germany
  • 2010: Bierman Henket Architecten and Wessel de Jonge Architecten for the restoration of the Zonnestraal Sanatorium in Hilversum, the Netherlands
  • 2012: The Architectural Consortium for Hizuchi Elementary School in Yawatahama City, Japan
  • 2014: The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library, with the Central City Alvar Aalto Library in Vyborg, for the restoration of Viipuri Library in Vyborg, Russia

Photo: Molenaar & Co. architecten/Bas Kooij
Photo: Molenaar & Co. architecten/Bas Kooij
Photo: Molenaar & Co. architecten/Bas Kooij

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