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Cornelis van Eesteren won the 1921 Prix de Rome award for architecture with his design for an Academy of Sciences, Literature and Arts in Amsterdam. This design, made while he was still a student, has a classical layout, characterized by symmetry, monumentality, and decorative elements. His prize was a bursary to travel to Germany and Scandinavia in order to study the use of brick in architecture.
Van Eesteren’s stay in Berlin, one of the stops on his European trip, provided his first confrontation not only with the reality of the big city, but also with the culture of the avant-garde.
He met Hans Richter and Adolph Behne, who advised him to continue his studies at the Bauhaus in Weimar. That is where he met Theo van Doesburg for the first time, marking the start of a ”relationship” that was to last until 1925. Van Eesteren’s interim report to the Prix de Rome commission for the purpose of extending his bursary demonstrated his interest in the subject of urban construction: his reflections on Berlin, for instance, revealed his specific observation of that city, focussed on the way traffic functioned and on city zoning.