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Between 1860 and 1865, Cuypers started to distance himself from ‘copyism’, a sub-movement within the Gothic Revival movement which drew its inspiration from medieval designs. In reaction to this he developed a design methodology or architectural ‘language’ which paid more attention to how a building fits into its surroundings. Public spaces and the city’s housing and quality of life became very important to Cuypers.

The Vondelkerk in the midst of construction, 1867 - 1900

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Cuypers built his double villa on the Vondelstraat in such a way that one side looked over his beloved Vondelkerk while the other side looked over the park. The side staircase with landings and the characteristic gabled towers stand out. The house’s name, ‘Nieuw Leyerhoven’ (New Leyerhoven), is a reference to his previous house ‘Leyerhoven’, which stood at the beginning of the Vondelstraat.

Detail of the Vondelkerk

Criticism

Cuypers did not live at this address for long. In 1881 he moved to a new villa at 77-79 Vondelstraat. While designing this red brick house, he succumbed to the temptation of sneering at his critics. The tile tableau in the façade shows three men, with the accompanying text: Jan bedenckt et, Piet volbrengt et, Claesgen laeckt et. Och, wat maeckt et’, loosely translated as ‘Jan invents it, Piet completes it, Claesgen laughs at it. Oh, what does it matter’. By using the name ‘Claesgen’, he pointed a finger at the city authorities which he believed opposed his work.

The restored interior of the church