Huis Van Zessen in Alblasserdam is a dike house dating from 1923, designed by Cornelis van Eesteren. The EFL Foundation owns the house and it can now be visited by appointment thanks to an enthusiastic group of volunteers. They receive visitors and give interesting tours. They also maintain the house and are involved in various activities. There are regular meetings where the work of Van Eesteren is central.
A brief history of the house
The house was built at the time by Van Eesteren's father's contracting firm on behalf of the widow of grocer Arie van Zessen, Burgerina van Zessen-Stout.
While the house was being built, Van Eesteren stayed in Paris where he worked with the painter Theo van Doesburg and Gerrit Rietveld on the De Stijl exhibition in Galerie L'Effort Moderne. The exhibition caused an international furore because of the drawings and models, which became icons of abstraction in modern architecture.
Van Eesteren had brought along the drawings of the house. Based on these, Van Doesburg designed the colour scheme for window frames, windows, doors and shutters. Van Eesteren sent the coloured drawing, with instructions for the painter, from Paris to Alblasserdam. The house was completed by the end of November. It was not until the turn of the year 1923-24 that the architect saw the house with its colours for the first time with his own eyes. In the spring of 1924, the leading French magazine l'Architecture Vivante published the design of the house.
Huis van Zessen is one of the earliest examples of modern functionalist architecture: austere volumes, covered by a flat roof and enlivened by functional elements in primary colours. Huis van Zessen was purchased by the EFL Foundation in 1990 and was subsequently restored by Bertus Mulder and made into a museum house.
In Huis Van Zessen in Alblasserdam, Barbara Laan has mounted an exhibition on the origins and significance of the house.