16 - Rural area buildings: Farms, workers' residences and barns

The Board wanted the same approach for farm building in the Noordoostpolder as with the Wieringermeer. This was not an easy thing to achieve, because after World War 2 the architectural division of the Board was rebuilding farms elsewhere in the country. Well-trained workers and building materials were also in short supply. The Board, thinking from a cost-perspective, tried to limit the amount of farm types. Still, it endeavoured to bring the buildings in line with the type and size of the agricultural company as much as possible. Each tenant was to obtain a tenant building and space that was as functional as could be. Construction in the rural area of the Noordoostpolder has a very regular spread. The issuance plan determined that each tenant was to live on his own land, close to the public road. The agricultural workers in service of the farmers had to live close to the farms as well.

Extraction farms

In the early years, following the example of the Wieringermeer farms, the Noordoostpolder constructed sixty extraction farms with the tenant building placed against the barn.

Noordoostpolder, extraction farm 1949.Noordoostpolder, extraction farm 1949.

Construction already accounted for the adjustments required to lease the farm later on. It proved too expensive to build all farms after the example of the Wieringermeer farms. For the 1947 company issuance, emergency barns and homes were erected, the so-called Austrian houses (see also pane 15). The Board was concerned that the Noordoostpolder farms were not being built quickly enough. They went out looking for suitable alternatives. Prefabrication with concrete elements seemed a fitting solution. This construction type required less workers and traditional building materials.

The NV Schokbeton

Barns made of prefabricated concrete elements were a novel thing in the farm building industry. The associated partner was NV Schokbeton, a company with which the Board had already successfully conducted prior business.

Farms for the Noordoostpolder at NV Schokbeton in Kampen, 1950.
Farms for the Noordoostpolder at NV Schokbeton in Kampen, 1950.

It was convenient that NV Schokbeton had just built a new factory in Kampen in 1947. The location for the new factory was probably influenced by future market opportunities. In the period of 1949-1958, NV Schokbeton delivered an impressive 978 prefab barns in the Noordoostpolder Over ninety percent of all lots that were 24 hectares or larger were given a vibrated concrete barn. 

In 1949 and 1950, the first batch of 121 prefab barns were being constructed for arable farms.
In 1949 and 1950, the first batch of 121 prefab barns were being constructed for arable farms.

This batch was intended to gain experience in prefab building. The Board was very satisfied with the test: they succeeded in building a barn, including foundation and a complete finish, in six weeks. The second generation (1951-1953) and third generation (1954-1958) barns had adjustments to their foundation, roof structure, the thickness and look of the wall elements and stable building. Thirty-seven different layouts were available for the prefab barns. What company was eligible for which barn depended on company size, possible pasture requirements and the year of company issuance.

The First
The First

Farm building in the Noordoostpolder was viewed with caution by the Dutch Minister of Finance. He feared that the Noordoostpolder would drain too much of the state's funds in the important and valuable reconstruction period following German occupation. However, the Board managed to keep costs low, owing this in part to those vibrated concrete barns.

Tenant houses     

For mixed firms, the homes were connected to the barn.For mixed firms, the homes were connected to the barn.

Nearly all of the tenant homes of the large firms were built using traditional building materials. For arable farm firms, the homes were detached. The size of the homes was linked to the size of the lot. For mixed firms, the homes were connected to the barn. After all, the farmer had to be able to easily reach his cattle in the barn. 

In total, there were 23 different house types. For that time period, the tenant houses were quite spacious. The architecture has elements of the Delftse School and the Nieuwe Bouwen (see also pane 15). Exceptions to the traditional tenant houses were the Austrian homes and a number of small semi-bungalows, placed at locations like the Steenbankpad. Given the development of farm building in Eastern Flevoland, these last houses were subjected to a test. The semi-bungalows were constructed with prefab elements and thus suitable for batch production.


Smallholdings included firms smaller than the standard lot of 24 hectares. The barn and tenant house were semi-detached. The minimum company size was 12 hectares, because a tenant could then keep his company in operation without needing extra workers and thus provide for his family.

New farm in Ens, 1950.
New farm in Ens, 1950.

Farm type: Brabantse long farm
Farm type: Brabantse long farm

A large number of the small firms were allocated to farmers from Walcheren, who after the inundation of Walcheren  in 1944-1946 and the subsequent land consolidation were allowed to pursue a new life in the Noordoostpolder. In total, the Board constructed 513 farms for small firms. With the allocation to farmers from Walcheren in Zeeland, these farmhouse types are known locally as Zeeuwse farms. They are however Brabantse long farms. (see also www.flevolanderfgoed.nl).

Horticulture firms

In the Noordoostpolder, 2500 hectares were reserved for fruit and vegetable firms. The architecture of the homes and barns of the horticulture firms was simple. The issuance of fruit growing firms was initially a slow one due to the high investment costs (22,000 euro for a fruit growing company of 12 hectares). There was more interest for vegetable growing firms. In total, 94 fruit growing firms and 130 vegetable growing firms were issued.

Agricultural workers' homes

Workers' homes were meant for permanent employees at the larger farm firms. 

The Noordoostpolder was the last area in the Netherlands where workers' homes were still being built at farmsThe Noordoostpolder was the last area in the Netherlands where workers' homes were still being built at farms.

More than a thousand of them were constructed in the Noordoostpolder. Initially, they were built in close proximity to the farms. However, for both the workers and their families, this was less than ideal. It was too easy for farmers to call upon their workers after working hours. The wives generally felt lonely, and children had to cover great distances to go to school. The workers' homes were also the property of the farmer. If an employment contract ended, this also meant that the worker had to move out. Many agricultural workers later settled for a home in the nearest village. The workers' homes are very typical for the polder appearance.

Belgian baracks and Austrian houses

The rebuilding after World War 2 and the lack of materials led to the construction of so-called Austrian homes (purchased from Austria with commodities like fish). 72 of these homes were placed on the first lots of the first company issuance with the accompanying barns. These barns came from Belgian, and had previously functioned as accommodation for prisoners of war. Around 100 of these Belgian barracks were installed as storage on the farmyards.

Austrian home with double "Belgian barracks" at the Zwartemeerweg (Klaver family), first issuance 1947
Austrian home with double "Belgian barracks" at the Zwartemeerweg (Klaver family), first issuance 1947

General Plantation plan 

A General Plantation plan was drawn up for planting the rural area. The farmyards played an important role in this. Trees and shrubs were planted around the farmyards of firms and workers' homes, the so-called windbreak. This is what gives the Noordoostpolder its typical appearance, but it is also functional. It protects the buildings against the wind and gives inhabitants a sense of security.

Much of the original design and division of the rural area is still recognisable in today's Noordoostpolder landscape. The farms and workers' homes built in the polder by the Board of de Wieringermeer have immense cultural-historical value. By now, some of these farms and homes have turned into national heritage sites. Conversely, a few dozen homes have been demolished and replaced by modern, detached housing.