Lecture: De Groete Bouw

Ad van Iterson about the Cité Ouvrière and Petrus Regout's lasting influence in Maastricht

23 February 2022

Historian and Petrus Regout biographer Ad van Iterson talks about one of the most pontifical buildings in Maastricht. The Cité Ouvrière was simply known as the Big Building. It was a grand presence in the Boschstraatkwartier skyline, it was the pride of Sphinx-founder Petrus Regout, and it was one of the most notorious pieces of Maastricht history. How can one building be so so symbolic of an entire enterprise?

In 1863 the Aachen-based architect Wilhelm Wickop completed Petrus Regout's worker barracks. The employees of the glass and ceramics factories of Regout & Co. - later Royal Sphinx - lived in De Groete Bouw (The Big Building) close to Boschstraat. Its facade was very characteristic and strongly visible from under the Penitents' Gate in Boschstraat, which stands to this day. The Cité Ouvrière itself was broken down, in 1938.

The building was the pride and joy of Petrus Regout, who had it portrayed in his lithograph album, albeit larger than it actually was and in the wrong place to boot, to make it look more prominent. The people of Maastricht, on the other hand, hated the building. It was an 'unacceptable people warehouse', with almost 300 inhabitants in a little less than 100 rooms, a number of which functioned as 'corpse rooms': after all, you couldn't expect a dead person to just lie in bed for a few days until he was collected. The building became a symbol of the social inequality in industrial Maastricht - even more so because its backside looked out over the gardens of Petrus II Regout's city palace. He would later become the factories' new director.

In spite of all good intentions that the family patriarch Petrus I might have had, the Cité Ouvrière is one of the reasons why the Regout family name suffered under a bad reputation throughout the 20th century. Petrus Regout's influence lasts in other ways and in other places in the city, though, oftentimes noticeable in some extraordinary architecture. Architect Wickop stood faithfully at his side.

Date Wednesday 23 February 2022, 6 pm
Language Dutch
Admission €3,-. Tickets available via the website.