De Liefde

Da Costakade/Bilderdijkstraat
Da Costabuurt
Charles Vandenhove
Woningbouwvereniging Het Oosten/R.K. regionale parochie V.V.L.
Tram 3, 12, 13, 14
Geert Bekaert, Kim Zwarts, Charles Vandenhove 1985-1995, Rotterdam, 1994, p.40-43; Leo Versteijlen, 'Woningbouw van Vandenhove in Nederland', De Architect, november 1992, p.87-98.

Housing block with chapel and youth centre

The site formerly occupied by one of P.J.H. Cuypers’ neo-Gothic churches, called De Liefde, now accommodates a complex of 101 social housing units. A small chapel and a youth centre have also been integrated into the design. The Belgian architect, Charles Vandenhove, chose an almshouse layout, reflecting a building type last built in Amsterdam in the 19th century. A sense of unity is provided by the unbroken cornice with dormers and by the regular rhythm of windows and ornaments.

The neo-classicist facades are a typical instance of historicizing architecture. The facades, finished in red brick and perforated by loggias, harmonize well in height, colour and proportioning with the surrounding 19th century fabric. The neck gables refer to the canal houses of Amsterdam’s belt of concentric canals. Vandenhove’s design intentionally connects with the city’s history and identity. Besides the functions of the building, he respects the genius loci, the unique essence of the location. Works of art by the French artist Daniel Buren are present in the archways leading to the courtyard. In the centre of the courtyard, there is a fountain surrounded by a colonnade. Water, symbolizing the source of life, is a recurrent element in Vandenhove’s opus.

The housing complex includes a chapel, incorporated on Vandenhove’s own initiative. The rectangular, white hall is lit by square windows – a shape which reappears elsewhere in the chapel design. The words inscribed apparently at random over the white walls and ceiling are a work by the American artist Robert Barry. This element is typical for Vandenhove, who involves artists in many of his projects. (ARCAM/HL)