The Sonneveld House at Completion in 1933. Photograph: © Jan Kamman. Collection: Nederlands fotomuseum
The Sonneveld House Museum stands adjacent to the NAI on the corner of Jongkindstraat and Rochussenstraat in Rotterdam. Built in the early nineteen thirties, it is one of the best-preserved houses in the Nieuwe Bouwen style, the Dutch branch of the International School of Modernism. It was designed by the architecture firm of Brinkman & Van der Vlugt, also known for the Van Nelle Factory and Feyenoord Stadium. The Sonneveld House opened to the public as a house museum of the NAI in March 2001, following a period of intensive restoration and refurbishment. As a visitor, you can see for yourself what it was like to live in a hypermodern home in 1933.
Albertus Sonneveld, one of the three directors of the Van Nelle Factory, commissioned the construction of the detached house for himself and his family in 1929. They finally moved into the new house on Jongkindstraat in 1933, leaving all their old household possessions behind. Not merely content to adapt to their new surroundings, they chose to modernize their whole lifestyle according to the tastes of the avant garde. The Sonneveld House illustrates how the new trends in architecture were welcomed by the influential upper middle class.
> The Library in Sonneveld House Museum. Photo: Jannes Linders.
A striking aspect of the house is the way Brinkman and Van der Vlugt designed not only the architecture but also the complete interior. For the furnishings, they selected mainly furniture by the designer/manufacturer Gispen and fabrics by the firm Metz & Co. The Sonneveld House is probably the first example of an early modern interior where the products of these companies were applied consistently. The house was moreover equipped with the latest household gadgets to enhance the domestic pleasure of its inhabitants. In the shower, for example, water sprays from at least ten shower heads. An electric bell was incorporated into the dining table for summoning the servant during meals.
The Rotterdam foundation "Stichting Volkskracht Historische Monumenten" purchased the Sonneveld House in 1997. They began cooperating with the Netherlands Architecture Institute on a regular basis in February 1999. With this cooperation the house was restored and opened to the public as a museum house. The restoration work was carried out by the architecture firm of Molenaar & Van Winden, and the NAI took responsibility for the interior refurbishment.