The Glaspalace Schunck, Heerlen (NL) text, no JavaScript Deze pagina in het Nederlands Diese Seite auf Deutsch This page in English Cette page en Français

The Glass Palace  

previous history
THE PRINCIPALS: Arnold Schunck & his son Peter
see also: Arnold Schunck, een wever die zich handhaafde
or: Arnold Schunck, ein Weber der sich behauptete

Schunck's Glass Palace - a monument
by William PARS Graatsma *)


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



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. 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.

previous history of the glass palace(previous history)

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 severa1 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 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: William PARS Graatsma, Glaspaleis Schunck, Vooraf.