Shortly after the surrender of the Dutch army in May 1940, the National Agency for Food Supplies in Wartime decided that new kitchens for mass feeding had to be quickly built. An innovative cooking method based on steam, had been developed to hand out soup and stamppot in large quantities whilst keeping nutrition levels high. Civil-engineer Bastiaan Verhey, co-founder of engineering firm DHV was commissioned with the design and mass construction of 50 ‘hyper-efficient’ cooking and serving stations in 42 designated municipalities throughout the Netherlands.
Erik Oostwegel, CEO Royal HaskoningDHV: ‘It’s no surprise that Bastiaan Verhey got the assignment. He maintained good relationships with former DHV-companion Arnold Groothoff, who by that time was a member of the national crisis-council in wartime. Verhey had already gained valuable experience in rapid and serial production of buildings for the Dutch artillery organization in 1938. So DHV was the most logical partner to go to.”
Examples of standardised construction of community kitchens. Top left Amersfoort, top right Magelhaensplein in Amsterdam, bottom left Vlissingen, bottom right Dordrecht. None of these temporary buildings has survived. (source: Gaslaan Archief Eemland, Stadsarchief Amsterdam, Beeldbank Zeeland, Regionaal Archief Dordrecht)
Work started in August 1940. In three months Verhey and his colleagues managed to design, construct and deliver the first prototype community kitchen in Rotterdam. Oostwegel: “If the phrase ‘time-to-market is key’ had been in use back then, this would have been the perfect example!”
140 years of inspiring stories so far
In 2021 we’re celebrating 140 years of operation. To mark this, we are treating you to nine great stories from our archives.