Linnaeusstraat 197-227

Linnaeusstraat 197-227
J.J.B. Franswa
Bouwmaatschappij Volkerak II
Bus 41, tram 9
Commercieel, Wonen

The Tower by Franswa

Is it an observation post? A chimney in disguise? Or simply a decorative element in a larger design? The tower in the block Linnaeusstraat 197-227 appears to have no function, were it not for the fact that it has windows.

There was no tower in the initial design by the architect J.J.B. Franswa (1898-1964) for this block. It was possibly added as an urban landmark on the directions of the building inspectorate, which seems to rule out a functional purpose. Today, this small space with a view is used by residents for storage.

The tower as a decorative element is in perfect keeping with the more austere Amsterdam School style, of which there are many examples in Berlage’s Plan Zuid. Franswa’s design for the red brick building – commissioned by the construction company Volkerak II – dates from 1929. The building was to have been far more richly decorated but, and not for the first time in his career, the statues and ornaments Franswa had designed were scrapped for reasons of cost.

For all that, it is a fine building as regards its detailing and positioning in the streetscape. The block forms, which are linked in vertical rows, the geometric decorative motifs and above all the tower, make the building a striking presence. The brick pylon calls to mind a similar type of design, a residential building by Berlage, for Mercatorplein. The tower is positioned opposite the octagonal square that gives access to Pretoriusstraat, but it is also a linking element in the sight lines in Linnaeusstraat; half a kilometre further is the church tower of Muiderkerk on Oosterpark.

Linnaeusstraat 197-227 is, however, not only distinctive because of the decorated façade and corner tower; the integrated shop canopy was at that time, in 1930, an unusual element in Amsterdam’s streetscape. Only Jan Evertsenstraat had a similar design. Because of all of these features, the building is soon to be listed as a municipal monument.

Thus an architectural-historical landmark will be added to Polderweggebied, the area adjacent to the building, which has numerous modern buildings. Perhaps in the future Franswa’s tower can be used as an observation post, with a view of the modern urban development in this rapidly changing area of Amsterdam Oost. (ARCAM/BONAS/TV)