Former Built Environment PhD candidate wins J. Dutilh Prize

Hanneke Oosterhof, who obtained her doctoral degree under supervision of TU/e professor of Architectural History Bernard Colenbrander, was awarded the J. Dutilh Prize in Rotterdam yesterday for her dissertation. She wrote a biography of German-Dutch architect and urban planner Lotte Stam-Beese. The prize is awarded every two years to the author of the best book on Rotterdam and is intended to foster interest in the history of Rotterdam.

photo Stadsarchief Rotterdam

The main title of Hanneke Oosterhof’s dissertation, ‘Because the ground belongs to us all,’ refers to a saying that was commonly used by Lotte Stam-Beese in articles and during lectures. Oosterhof: “To her mind, it was a problem in many new, post-war neighborhoods that people didn’t feel connected to the ground, to their direct, physical living environment. She believed that everyone should be aware of that environment and feel responsible for it.”

Stam-Beese attended the Bauhaus school in Dessau and later became the first woman to get accepted in the new architecture course neue Baulehre, established by Hannes Meyer. In the nineteen-thirties, she worked as an architect in Berlin, Brno (Czechoslovakia) and in the Soviet Union, where she helped to construct the socialist cities known as Sotsgorods.

In 1934 she moved to the Netherlands, after she fell in love with Dutch architect and designer Mart Stam, who also lived and worked in the Soviet Union. In the Netherlands, she worked as a photographer, graphic designer, product designer, illustrator, writer of articles, but most of all as an urban planning-architect for the city of Rotterdam between 1948 and 1971.

Clear structure

Stam-Beese worked on the modernist, post-war Rotterdam districts of Kleinpolder, Pendrecht, Het Lage Land and Ommoord. Districts with a clear and spatial structure, a separation between areas for living, working and recreation, many strips of greenery, built with new materials and technology.

Stam-Beese was a woman in a male-dominated world. One of the questions Oosterhof asked herself in her dissertation, was how the social balance (of power) in Stam-Beese’s field was influenced by the fact that she was a woman. Oosterhof told her supervisor that winning the prize had surprised her. She is currently working on a biography of Erwin de Vries, an artist from Suriname.

The J. Dutilh Prize was established in 1992 after mr. Jacques Dutilh retired from the Roterodamum Historical Society. Ever since its foundation, Dutilh devoted himself to the society for 45 years. He served as secretary for a period of 25 years, after which he became chairman for another 20 years. In 2001, Dutilh passed away at the age of 82. Since 2014, the winners receive a bronze sculpture made by Joep van Lieshout and a sum of 6,000 euros.

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