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The Glaspalace Schunck, Heerlen

SCHUNCK’s web :
Peter Josef Schunck
in the pedigree
The glass palace in his biografie in the „Rijckheyt Archief“
Familie reünie 16 mei 2015 - 80 jaar Glaspaleis
www : Een nieuw leven voor het glaspaleis
Glaspaleis in bronnen (

At this page:
Top-13 of the most important buildings in the 20th century
The Glass Palace becomes a monument Foreword to the book „Glaspaleis Schunck“ by William PARS Graatsma, on the occasion of the reopening of SCHUNCK
The Principals
Peter Schunck & Frits Peutz


On May 31 1935 the company A.Schunck moved to a new building, the still existing glass palace at the Bongerd square. This building of glass and concrete by architect Peutz was very progressive for the time. It was sort of a skyscraper in miniature: a supporting concrete structure with hanging glass facades. Between the glass and the skeleton a ventilation system is incorporated, which, when the sun shines, is driven by the rising heated air. At low temperatures, the air flow is reversed, it rises by the central staircase. The originally built-in fans were found to be unnecessary. Extensive information can be found on the Wikipedia page or at the less detailed Dutch page

Decré, Nantes - art deco

Client Peter Joseph Schunck and architect Frits Peutz were apparently well with each other. They traveled together through Europe to get ideas. The department store Decré by Henri Sauvage in Nantes (France) was the main source of inspiration. Peters order was: „Design a department store that is stacked like a marketplace next to the market“. Because the focus was on clothing and fabrics, he wanted to offer to the customers to have daylight not far away at any place in the building to be able to assess the color of the fabrics (source: oral tradition via PJA Schunck). The result is a building that surpasses in its transparancy even the Bauhaus building in Dessau which is so much famed for this.
The Second World War brought much misery for the Schunck building, three times the glass palace was hit by bombs. In late 1944 it was confiscated by the American generals Patton and Simpson to serve as a headquarters. A few months later it was „rest center“ for the French „maquis“ (Resistance). In particular the latter residents did not really handle the interior with consideration. After the war, the business flourished again, so good in fact that in 1954 a branch was opened in Geleen. It was specialised in women's clothing.

Top-13 of the most important buildings in the 20th century

Thirteen of the thousand most important buildings in the 20th Century the world are located in the Netherlands. This emerges from a list, the 20th, the Union Internationale d'Architecture to their Congress can create. chronologically:

Former Stock Exchange, Amsterdam (H.P. Berlage, 1903)
Flats "Eigen Haard" Zaanstraat, Amsterdam (M. de Klerk, 1920)
Schröderhuis, Utrecht (G.Th. Rietveld, 1924)
Flats "Kiefhoek" Rotterdam (JJP Oud, 1930)
Town Hall, Hilversum (W.M. Dudok, 1930)
Open Air School, Amsterdam (J. Duiker, 1930)
Van Nelle factories, Rotterdam (JA Brinkman LC van de Vlugt of, 1931)
Sanatorium "Zonnestraal", Hilversum (J. Duiker, 1931)
Department store Schunck, Heerlen (F.P.J. Peutz, 1936)
Civil Orphanage, Amsterdam (A. van Eyck, 1960)
"Centraal Beheer", Apeldoorn (H. Hertzberger, 1972)
Kunsthalle, Rotterdam (R. Koolhaas, 1992)
Expansion Arts Academy, Maastricht (W. Arets, 1992)

Source: International Architects Union UIA
found at belangrijkste gebouwen van de twintigste eeuw&aid=207 historische Aufnahme Glaspalast

The Glass Palace becomes a monument

Foreword to the book „Glaspaleis Schunck“ by William PARS Graatsma, on the occasion of the reopening of the Glass Palace

Alarmed by new threats to Schunck's Glass Palace in Heerlen - the Buildings Inspectorate had proposed dismantling the entire roof structure in 1962, while alterations in 1973 had seriously affected the building as a whole - Nic Tummers, the man who had dedicated himself for many years to the preservation of this building designed by the architect Frits Peutz, formed a working group towards the end of 1993 consisting of Jo Coumans, Jan Hubert Henket, Piet Mertens, Lian Strijards and the Peutz Foundation - represented by Wiel Arets, William Graatsma and Jan Peutz - with the aim of preserving and restoring the Glass Palace.

On 4 December 1995, thanks to the efforts of group and the Foundation, the State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science placed the Glass Palace Schunck on the list of Protected Monuments.

In the meantime, the F.R.J. Peutz Foundation, at the suggestion of Wiel Arets, had commissioned its secretary, William PARS Graatsma to trace the textual and visual documents relating to the construction of the Glass Palace and to produce a collection of them. This would make it possible to determine as precisely as possible the original appearance of the building.

The present book is the result of this research. It has been made possible thanks to the financial assistance of the ABP (Heerlen), the Anjerfonds Limburg, Wiel Arets Architect & Associates (Heerlen), Coumans Planning and Project Management Consultants (Heerlen), Chr. Dohmen-Schunck (Heerlen), the City of Heerlen, the Province of Limburg, the firm of A.Schunck (Heerlen), the SNS Bank Limburg, Peutz Architects (Heerlen), C.M. Koopman and C.M.J.I. Koopman-Peutz (Roermond), W.H.V Peutz (Tilburg-Diessen), V.M.A. Peutz (Ubbergen), J.H.F Peutz (Cloonen Hollymount, Ireland), AJ.F Peutz (Finighausen), A.V.I.F Peutz (Heerlen) and H.F.W Peutz (Breda).

The F.P.J. Peutz Foundation hopes that this book will help gain recognition for the work of Frits Peutz and for the historic importance the Glass Palace Schunck for architecture and urban engineering in general and for that of Heerlen in particular.

F.P.J. Peutz Foundation


The Principals

In 1874, Arnold Schunck (1844-1905), a descendant of an ancient family of weavers, moved from the German-speaking part of Belgium to the Dutch village of Heerlen to open a hand-loom weaving mill with a shop attached in "Willemstraat". The staff consisted of two men and a handful of orphan boys. Local sheep produced the wool, which was washed in the village stream, the Caumer, and dried in the nearby meadows. In1882 the business moved to the Kerkplein square. where further expansion took place over the years following.

The weaving mill had been closed for the machine age had begun in the Netherlands too, and the little mill in Heerlen had no chance of competing with the mechanical looms in Tilburg and Twente. In 1905 the founder of the firm died and was succeeded by his son Peter. The latter's forward-looking nature is shown by the fact that he introduced the new ready-to-wear clothing into the shop. Despite what were difficult times, the company, with staff of sixty, was expanding considerably. At the end of the First World War, textiles were so scarce and the German Mark had been devalued to such an extent that Peter Schunck was forced to operate at a considerable loss. Nevertheless, his business acumen was such that he was able to survive and he even set up a bus company to transport customers.

Peter Schunck & Frits Peutz

During the crisis years which followed - in the mid-thirties the coal industry entered a deep depression - and in the face of many people's doubts, Peter Schunck was able to realize a dream he had long cherished.In 1933 he commissioned the up-and-coming Heerlen architect Frits Peutz to design a "large tall store"

The opinion of the ex-minister Verschuur, on a visit to Heerlen, was that "Only a madman could put up a building like that during a depression. It is a foolhardy undertaking". The firm's stock now consisted of ladies', gentlemen's and children's clothing, drapery, textiles, beds and carpets. Schunck's motto was 'Quality always comes out on top'. His most unusual requirement for the new building was that the whole stock should be displayed at the place where it was to be sold. This was perfectly normal at the market, but it was a new technique for a shop. Given the large range of goods the company sold, it led to Peutz designing a building consisting of several retail storeys placed one above the other.

The idea was taken further by having a large number of display windows. The displays, done by the famous Cologne window-dresser Alexander Ludwig, would draw the attention of shoppers for many years. The fact that Schunck had already been involved with new building construction for some time is shown by the commission he had already given in 1927 to the architect Henri Dassen, who was active in the center of Heerlen.

 The Glass Palace on the evening of the opening, June 1, 1935.
 Photo Heerlen City Archives, Archives Schunck
The commission, which was not in fact carried out, consisted of producing designs for a temporary wooden shop building between the 'Kerkplein' and 'Marktplein'. A few years later, Schunck was also in contact with the Amsterdam architect Jan Kuijt W.Z.N., who designed the V&D building (1920) on the 'Marktplein' in Heerlen. All this shows that Schunck was taking no chances with the new department store which he had in mind. He familiarized himself with architectural publications and visited department stores both in the Netherlands and abroad. One of these was Les Grands Magasins Decré in Nantes, which he visited together with Frits Peutz. This glass building, opened in 1932 and destroyed by bombing in 1943, turned out to be an inspiration to both client and architect. Designed in art deco style by Henri Sauvage (1873-1932), the architect who extended the Paris store 'La Samaritaine' (1926- 1929), this building was the result of an ideal collaboration between an enlightened client and his architect. Peter Schunck also was open to his architect's ideas, and this openness produced the building which came to be known as the Glass Palace.

F.P.J. Peutz Foundation

From: Glaspaleis Schunck by William PARS Graatsma (English / Dutch)



 The Glass Palace on the evening of the opening, June 1, 1935.
 Photo Heerlen City Archives, Archives Schunck
On June 30 2004 the grand opening of the renewed Glass Palace took place. The revolutionary building (1935) by architect Frits Peutz flaunts as ever in the center of Heerlen. No longer as a fashion house, like before, but as a cultural palace.
On January 1, 2009, SCHUNCK* was created from the combination of forces of several previously independent cultural institutions that were located in the Glass Palace: the museum of modern and contemporary art (stadsgalerij Heerlen), the center for architecture and urban design (Vitruvianum), the public library of Heerlen, the music school and the repertory cinema Filmhuis de Spiegel in the former penthouse. Here is also Restaurant 5.0