Bossche School

The Bossche School was a traditionalist movement in Dutch architecture which was strongly based on numerical relationships. It arose from the Delft School and was influential primarily on the design of Catholic churches.

The name of the movement came from the three-year Course in Ecclesiastical Architecture which was offered from 1946 to 1973 in the Kruithuis in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The training was intended to guide architects during the post-war reconstruction of churches. The leaders were Dom Hans van der Laan, his brother Nico van der Laan and C. Pouderoyen.

The name of the movement is derived from the three-year Course Ecclesiastical Architecture which, because of the fact that during the Second World War hundreds of churches in the Province of Brabant were irreparably damaged or destroyed, was given during the reconstruction period between 1946 and 1973 in the Kruithuis to ‘s-Hertogenbosch . The course was intended for architects who had previously completed a course at the Academy of Architecture or the Delft University of Technology and wanted to specialize in church construction. In addition to the 3-year course, general study days were organized, which were accessible to a wider audience. In 1973 the course was officially ended, but the meetings of like-minded architects continued for years, including at the offices of Nico van der Laan and Jan de Jong .

Ir Nico van der Laan was appointed director and course leader by the archbishop of Utrecht. The Benedictine monk stupid Hans van der Laan osb , Nico van der Laan and C. Pouderoyen were the main teachers. From 1953, more and more lessons were given by Dom Van der Laan and his influence on the course increased. For him, the lessons were a means to transfer his ideas about architecture and the system of measurements developed by him, based on the plastic number . Because of the Catholic background of the organizers and teachers it is not surprising that the Bossche School style was primarily expressed in Catholic church building . The starting points of Van der Laan’s architectural theory, however, are general and increasingly secular buildings were created according to these principles. Although the highlight of this style was in the 60s and 70s, buildings are still being designed that are to a greater or lesser extent inspired by the Bossche school architecture. Examples include the Brandepoort bastion in Geertruidenberg , the Three Amazons in Den Bosch (only style features) and Kloosterburen in The Hague Moerwijk (2017).

The most important characteristic of the Bossche School is the application of a strict proportion system, based on the so-called plastic number , a proportion based on our three-dimensional – hence ‘plastic’ – perception of the world around us. Another important concept in the theory is the ‘cella’ or room, the smallest architectural space within a building, that develops between two walls that are ‘in close proximity’. The width of a room or gallery is directly related to the wall thickness (7: 1), and in turn forms the basis for the entire architectural design.

The buildings were primarily three-aisled basilicas and central building churches, modeled after early Christian churches in Italy. The towers often recall the campaniles in the north of Italy. Van der Laan suspected that these buildings had a similar measurement system as his ‘plastic number’. This meant that architects who had followed the course in the Kruithuis were also called denigrating ‘basil builders’. In terms of style, the ‘Bossche School’ churches were initially related to the buildings of the Delft School, until around 1956-57, under the influence of Van der Laan’s design for the abbey church at Vaals (1956-1968) and a number of innovative church designs of Jan de Jong (who had completed the course in 1956) had a strong austerity in the design. The changing liturgical views within the Catholic Church contributed to this. For example, the Second Vatican Council already experimented with a more centrally located main altar and Jan de Jong designed large hall churches where the church floor was conceived as a city square, a meeting place for believers.

In the Bossche School architecture, the core issue is the creation of confined spaces and the mutual cohesion of all components within the whole. This is achieved by applying balanced dimensional ratios according to the ratio system of the ‘plastic number’. Although it never concerned the application of specific style elements, some characteristics have emerged that are characteristic of the Bossche School style.

Deeply placed windows with clearly visible tops to emphasize the wall thickness.
The joints between bricks are completely filled, sometimes so full that the cement drips out.
The outer walls are often smeared with cement porridge.
The floors are often carried out in washed gravel in cement.
The horizontality is emphasized by a few layers of bacon or by the use of clearly visible lintels above the door and window openings.
The flat roofs are finished with a row of hollow and convex roof tiles along the eaves.
The building materials are finished in such a way that the construction of a building remains recognizable.
It is played with the transitions between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

Their churches are mostly three-part basilicas, modelled on Early Christian churches in Italy. The towers are also reminiscent of the campaniles of northern Italy. In the second half of the 20th century many churches, monasteries and houses were built in this style, predominantly in the south of the Netherlands. Because of falling church attendance, a large number of these buildings have been threatened with demolition, as happened for example St. Willibrord’s Church in Almelo.

The Bossche School was the latest phase in the development of Dutch church architecture. Now, when new churches are built, to the extent that they still are, specialist architects are not necessarily required, and increasingly functiional architecture is preferred.

A good illustration of the principles of the School is provided by St. Benedictusberg Abbey near Vaals, where Hans van der Laan was responsible for the construction of the church, a crypt and atrium.

At Madurodam, a scale model of St. Martin’s Church, Gennep, is given as an example of the Bossche School.

At Heusden, the town hall, which was destroyed in World War II by the occupying Germans, was rebuilt according to the principles of the Bossche School, although not necessarily to the general liking of the locals.

At Odiliapeel the “Kruisvindingskerk” (“Church of the Discovery of the Cross”) by the architect Jan de Jong (1959) has been declared a locally protected monument by the municipality of Uden.

Architects of the Bossche School included:

Dom Hans van der Laan
Jan de Jong
Nico van der Laan
Evers en Sarlemijn
Gerard Wijnen
Fons Vermeulen
W.M. van Dael
A.J.C. van Beurden
C. Pouderoyen

Source From Wikipedia