He has collaborated internationally with big names like Le Corbusier and Gerrit Rietveld, designed in Amsterdam Betondorp (where Johan Cruijff grew up) and built some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Haarlem, including Rosehaghe and Tuinwijk-Zuid. It is social rental housing that evokes a sense of wealth through the beautiful urban compositions and meticulous details. Yet the name of the architect Johannes Bernardus (Han) Van Lochem (1881-1940) fell into oblivion.
Time to change that, says Haarlem Architecture Center ABC, which is celebrating Tuinwijk-Zuid’s 100th anniversary with an exhibition (until 23 October) about the Haarlem architect’s work and life. On the basis of photos of built work, publications and furniture that he has designed for the interior of his villas, you will be taken into his development: from a traditionally oriented architect to one of the best interpreters of new construction.
The germ of his socialist philosophy that drove him as an architect was sown during his studies in architecture in Delft. Then he has a meeting with architect Berlage, who is building the stock exchange in Amsterdam. ‘The insecure, inquisitive spirit that dominated me as a young student was touched as if by magic,’ he wrote of it. It became clear to him, ‘that to build is to fulfill a calling that can support humanity.’
During that period, he built his first villa for his parents in De Haarlemmerhout (today the city park), of which his father is the director. After graduating in 1909, he immediately started an office in Haarlem and received a major contract from the Kennemer Electricity Company for the expansion of the power plant in IJmuiden and the construction of eighty transformer houses. He seizes the opportunity to do what he prefers to do: experiment with masonry, construction techniques, and urban planning integration.
Inspired by British urban planner Ebenezer Howard’s garden city ideas, he develops a candid idea of public housing. In 1920 he writes in Nieuwe Amsterdammer: ‘In the new cities the whole house will be the norm for a family, because only then can the children grow up happily in nature.’ He gave the houses in Tuinwijk-Zuid a front and back garden, which becomes a giant collective courtyard.
If you compare Rosehaghe and Tuinwijk-Zuid with Betondorp or the Haarlem district of Patria, you will see Van Loghem’s work become more modern, where bricks make room for plaster and concrete. But he thinks that in the Netherlands it is too much about style – ‘pure appearance’.
He did not hesitate when in 1925 he was invited to participate in the construction of a socialist urban project in Soviet Russia. He wants ‘to be able to help lay a great foundation on which the new architecture could develop.’ The plan, for which he designs houses and a bathhouse, starts idealistically, but ends prematurely by Stalin. Disillusioned, he returns and settles in Rotterdam, where he focuses on writing in the absence of design assignments and becomes internationally active in the Conges Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM), which advocates for the new building.
Van Loghem never got the chance to realize an iconic building, but excelled at making the everyday environment special. He died at the age of 58, just before World War II.
The exhibition looks back at Van Loghem’s history, but also asks the question of what he should do with his work. The neighborhoods are monuments that you can not just change like that. At the same time, the energy transition requires solutions for insulation and sustainable energy supply. Van Loghem wanted to know: time for another experiment.
ABC Architecture Center Haarlem: Architect JB van Loghem in the spotlight, until 23/10. On Saturday 18/6, during Architecture Day, the house designed by Van Loghem on Zonnelaan in Tuinwijk-Zuid will be open to the public.