From the World Heritage inscription:
Designed and built in the 1920s, the Van Nellefabriek demonstrates an extremely accomplished industrial architecture. It comprises a complex of buildings consisting of several factories aligned along the perspective of a large internal roadway, and close to several means of transport (canals, roads, railway lines). Supported on an internal structure of reinforced concrete, the facades of the main buildings consist essentially of steel and glass, making large-scale use of the curtain wall principle. Via a common purpose agreed between the entrepreneur and the project architects and engineers, the Van Nellefabriek embodies an ideal factory, open to the outside world, whose interior working spaces are progressive, and in which daylight is used to provide pleasant working conditions. It embodies the accomplished realization of a new kind of factory that has become a symbol of the modernist and functionalist culture of the inter-war period. Lastly, it bears witness to the long port-related economic tradition of the Netherlands, in the processing of imported food products (coffee, tea, and tobacco) and their marketing in Europe.
Van Nellefabriek is the former headquarters of the Van Helle Company which was an importer of coffee, tea, and tobacco in the Netherlands. The site was placed on the world heritage list primarily because of because of its architectural significance, being one of the best early examples of modernism.
Many of the original furnishings such has doors, knobs, and toilet fixtures are still in place.
How to Get to Van Nellefabriek
Van Nellefabriek is located in Rotterdam, Netherlands and is approximately 4km away from the Rotterdam city center. It is easily accessible by taxi or car. There is also a bus stop right across the street from the facility which makes it easily accessible via public transportation.
How to See Van Nellefabriek
Van Nellefabriek is still a functioning commercial space with offices and event space. Because it is a working facility, you can’t just walk in. There is a guard desk at the front gate which requires you to check in.
Unless you know someone who works in the facility, your opportunities to tour it are limited to two options.
- The buildings are open to the public in September and June for Open Monument Day National Architecture Day. Check the official website for details.
- You can hire a private guide to tour the facility. This is what I did. The only company that I know of who provides the tours is Urban Guides. Guides cost €125 and you can bring a maximum of 20 people on each tour. The tour will last about an hour.
View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Netherlands.
View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.