• Registration Year


  • Registered Sector

    Van Nellefabriek

  • Historical Function

    Port and economic

  • Administrative Status

    Port city of Netherlands

Location and site

Van Nellefabriek was designed and built in the 1920s on the banks of a canal in the Spaanse Polder industrial zone north-west of Rotterdam.

Urban Morphology

Throughout a long industrial history devoted to the same activity of industrial processing and packaging of food products, the various factories and their functional relationships with the logistical spaces (warehousing, dispatching, transport) have remained unchanged. The ensemble of buildings was preserved when the premises underwent an economic conversion in the late 1990s. The conditions of integrity in terms of composition (location and organisation of territory, functional relationships, panoramic views, etc.), and in architectural terms in its various aspects, have been met. 

The Van Nellefabriek enjoys the highest level of state protection as it has been a listed national monument since 1985. A large buffer zone has been established to ensure good visual expression of the property in an open environment. The overall protection of the whole ensemble will be guaranteed by the new Municipal urban development plan, whose drawing up is nearing completion, and by the inclusion of environmental preservation measures in the urban development plans for the five zones of its urban environment. 

Registration Criteria

Criterion (ii): The Van Nellefabriek brings together and makes use of technical and architectural ideas originating from various parts of Europe and North America in the early 20th century. It is exceptionally successful both in terms of its industrial setup and its degree of architectural and aesthetic accomplishment. It represents an exemplary contribution by the Netherlands to the Modernism of the inter-war years, and has since its construction become an emblematic example and an influential reference throughout the world. 

Criterion (iv): In the context of industrial architecture in the first half of the 20th century, the Van Nellefabriek is an outstanding illustration of the values of relationships with the environment, the rational organisation of production flows, and dispatch via the nearby communication network, maximum admission of daylight to the internal spaces via the widespread use of a glass curtain wall with metal frames, and open interior spaces. It expresses the values of clarity, fluidity and the opening up of industry to the outside world. 

Historical Reference

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 realisation 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. 

Mr. Ahmed Aboutaleb
City of Rotterdam
Gemeente Rotterdam Bestuursdienst
3000 KP Rotterdam, Netherlands
Postbus 70012
+31 14-010

Mr. Frank Belderbos
Municipal Projectleader for the Van Nellefabriek
Municipality of Rotterdam

Rotterdam, Netherlands