The former Van Nelle factory in Rotterdam Rotte applies worldwide as the main industrial monument in Netherlands and belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage site since June 2014. [1The factory, designed by Leendert van der Vlugt by the architectural firm Brinkman & Van der Vlugt in collaboration with constructor IR. J.G. Wiebenga, is a prime example of the New Build and built between 1927 and 1930. Client was on behalf of the partners of The Firm inherit the Widow j. van Nelle, co-ownerKees van der Leeuw.

Today it offers shelter to a wide range of companies in the field of media and design. A number of location is used for meetings, conferences and events, here come annually 40,000 à 60,000 visitors. The complex is not open for tourist visitors.


[hide]*1 Chronology



  • Walter Gropius 1911 and Adolf Meyer designs in Germany the first factory in the style of the Functionalism and the earliest forerunner of the new Van Nelle factory: the Fagusfabriek.
  • 1913 Marten Mees, van Nelle-owner Kees van der Leeuw Van der Mandele , banker and architect Michiel Brinkman focus the study society annex society "The Rotterdamsche circle" on. Designer Willem Gispen and architect van der Vlugt (both of them will later be involved in the construction and equipment of the Van Nelle factory) become members.
  • 1914 First notes of Kees van der Leeuw on the conditions (corporate identity, location, infrastructure) for, as well as the social context of a new plant.
  • 1916 purchase by Kees van der Leeuw of the first plot in the Spaanse Polder (in collaboration with co-owner Michiel Brinkman, architect Henri Canters and Advisor).
  • 1917 Kees van der Leeuw Van der Mandele after mediation by banker named co-owner of the firm The inherit the widow j.van Nelle with the specific field of activity: the development of a new industrial premises for the company.
  • 1919 creation of a long-running conflict with the city of Rotterdam on the destiny of the on the territory of the (then) independent municipality Overschie located Van Nelle-site.


  • 1920 Architects Association "building" in Rotterdam by architects Michiel Brinkman and Willem kromhout founded (together with members as OldTribe and van der Vlugt a major boost for the emergence of the new architecture in Rotterdam).
    • Purchase second plot in the Spaanse Polder in collaboration with Henri co-owner C and Advisor Michiel Brinkman (problem: the future building site runs pointed, still leaves no economic development far).
  • 1923 IR. J.G. Wiebenga builds along with Vasudeva the MTS in Groningen, the first building in the style of the new architecture and also a pioneering work for building with reinforced concrete in Netherlands. This building is very appreciated by Kees van der Leeuw.
    • Michiel Brinkman wins tender for the design of the new industrial premises ("the Master Plan") and are still at TH Jan Brinkman in Delft student son is involved in the calculations related to the application of the low lying land.
  • 1924 Rounding third and final purchase plot in cooperation with co-owner Michiel Brinkman Henri Canters and Advisor: the total building site is now almost square.
    • The dredging of Adriaan Volker start three-meter application of the plot with sludge from the merwehaven, which then involuntarily.
  • 1925 Brinkman senior drops on the street in each other and deceased, 52-year-old, on the spot.
    • Brinkman junior breaks his studies to take over the work of his father and follows the suggestion of Kees van der Leeuw to merge with Leen van der Vlugt.
    • The entire Van Nelle-top, including the octogenarian owner Koos van der Leeuw, can travel along the almost 90,000 m 2 of sand: the raised, future building site should only have subsidence because of the slack peat soil underneath.
  • 1926 Kees van der Leeuw makes a study tour by the United States.
    • The start of construction at the pioneering work means piling of piles of reinforced concrete, until then they had no experience with it in our country. The first, almost 20 meters long, ingeheid piles, weather pulled, examined in the presence of inspectors from the Government, weather ingeheid, examined and then finally pulled back, weather ingeheid. Many hundreds, spot on the middle part of the site will follow yet manufactured, poles.
    • The first concrete for the Foundation is on October 8, in a festive entourage by Koos van der Leeuw Van Nelle-patriarch paid up.
  • 1927 Kees van der Leeuw declares officially the sports fields (tennis, football) with the van der Vlugt designed "football House" on the rear part of the open area.
  • 1928 tobacco factory ready, first test lineups of the equipment and machines tested.
    • Leen van der Vlugt allows to Kees van der Leeuw the construction of a viewpoint in the form of a bonbonnière finished on top of the tobacco factory for.
    • Spin-off 1 of the Van Nelle factory ready: the Van der Vlugt designed House for owner Kees van der Leeuw in Kralingen.
  • 1929 boiler house and office building are ready.
  • The whole building process is extensively photographed by Jan Kamman, the fixed, external photographer of Brinkman & Van der Vlugt Office


  • 1930 Construction factory complex is complete.
    • Instance (because of the Aviation Act with special dispensation from the Minister of transport, public works and Water Management) of a landing strip for the plane by owner Dick van der Leeuw.
    • Firm the inherit the Widow j.van Nelle France 1722 employees, more than ever before.
  • 1931 Spin off 2 of the Van Nelle factory ready: the House designed by Van der Vlugt General authorised signatory for coffee and tea, Matthijs de Bruyn, in Schiedam is ready.
  • 1932 one of the great architects of the twentieth century, the Swiss Le Corbusier is visiting the Van Nelle factory and is enthusiastic in his comments: "you have a beautiful proof of life in Rotterdam that comes! Of a purity, so unconditionally pure! ".
  • 1933 spin-off 3 of the Van Nelle factory ready: the Van der Vlugt designed House for General authorised signatory tobacco, Bertus Sonneveld in Rotterdam Centre.Sonneveld House this is now a very crowded museum.


  • 1940 Buildings complex in the city centre destroyed by bombardment.
    • Stray bomb explodes at the garage.
  • 1942 Purchase strip of land along the Rotte, conflict from 1919 with municipality of Rotterdam ended.
    • The outdoor area is, because of increasing food shortages, transformed into tuinderij where vegetable is cultivated for the staff.
  • 1943 Bombs on and around the coffee factory, 2 dead, killed, many injured, including the 3000 diamonds directors de Bruyn and Sonneveld.
    • Construction of 9 warehouses along the Rotte.
  • 1944 Van Nelle factory closed, production stopped due to lack of raw materials.
  • 1946 production of coffeetea and tobacco slowly started up again.
  • Start cigarette production in 1949 Van Nelle factory- "Number One".


  • chewing gum production Start in 1950 Van Nelle factory- "Chiclets".
  • 1954 Family van der Leeuw retired from the company, no longer connect with the factory.
  • 1956 Start production in the Van Nelle factory of powdered pudding - "Saroma".
  • Start production in 1962 the Van Nelle factory of vacuum packaged coffee- "Supra".
  • 1967 construction of another 3 (similar with the 9 from 1942) warehouses along the Delfshavense Schie.
  • Van Nelle factory in 1976 American hands: Standard Brands takes By Nelle about.
  • weather in 1983 Van Nelle factory managementbuy-out : largest Dutch hands until then.
  • 1985 Van Nelle factory registered as national monument.
  • 1987 Van Nelle factory owned by Sara Lee/Douwe Egberts.


  • 1991 Restoration tea room (the "Bonbonnière" on top of the tobacco factory).
  • 1995 decision to stop all production in the Van Nelle factory.
  • 1996 consultations between Sara Lee/DE and various Governments about repurposing.
    • Several buyers, including Royal Volker Wessels Stevinconstruction company, are signing up for the building complex to the Delfshavense Schie.
  • 1998 the now established BV buy the Van Nelle design factory complex.
  • 1999 Gordon Young is appointed as coordinating architect for the renovation.


  • 2001 First tenants involve the now renovated part of the Van Nelle design factory.
  • 2003 Decision to suspend world heritage nomination for because of the entry of former Secretary of State of culture, Rick van der Ploeg, to the World Heritage Committee in Paris.
  • 2004 President Barroso of the European Commission attends conference in the Van Nelle design factory.
  • 2008 The design factory receives prestigious award from the EU organization "Europa Nostra" for the exemplary quality of the renovation and reuse of the European cultural heritage Van Nelle factory.


  • 2010 following a recommendation of the Committee on world heritage Provisional List Revision led by IR. J.M. Leemhuis-Stout is decided to reactivate the nomination for the UNESCO World Heritage list of the.
  • 2011 a working group with specialists from America and municipality, be assisted by a Committee of external experts and facilitated by the Van Nelle design factory, start preparing of the "Statement of Outstanding Universal Value": the official nomination according to strict UNESCO rules that apply worldwide.
    • Visit Mayor Aboutaleb at the end of October the factory and says support in further developments regarding the nomination of the design factory
    • Hold an extraordinary meeting in mid-december the aldermen in the Van Nelle design factory on the role of the city of Rotterdam as a siteholder (local administrator in the relationship with UNESCO) and approve.
    • House of representatives approves the file at the end of december the end concept of good (the Government on behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the application)
  • on 24 January 2013 is in the former Distillery of the factory before many invited guests to Minister Jet Bussemaker the final nomination dossier handed over.
    • On that occasion, two agreements signed.
      • The first agreement between the municipality of Rotterdam and the owner of the complex, which both will act as co-siteholders.
      • The second is between national service for cultural heritage (RCE), municipality of Rotterdam and stichting Vrienden Van Nelle factory about guiding the consequences of the designation as a world heritage site with regard to aspects such as tourist function/visitor centre, accessibility, durability, embedding in city-marketing Rotterdam.
    • On 28 January, the nomination dossier in Paris on behalf of the Government by the Dutch permanent representative to UNESCO with a delegation headed by the alderman of culture, Antoinette Avenue, at UNESCO offered.
      • Commissioned by UNESCO is The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an independent non-governmental organization, assess on the spot the file.
  • on June 21, 2014 is during the 38th session of the Commission for World Heritage the final decision taken to Doha to naming the Van Nelle factory to UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site. The positive judgement means that the Van Nelle factory for the world irreplaceable and is deemed of particular importance and is therefore placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. [2]

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