Stichting Bouwresearch: A Legacy in Dutch Construction Knowledge

Joe Hamilton

Stichting Bouwresearch

A watershed moment in Dutch building history is the legacy of Stichting Bouwresearch (SBR), subsequently SBRCURnet. Since its founding in 1959, this institute has had a profound impact on Dutch building methods and methodology.

 Let’s explore its history and the impact it has had.

Foundation and Early Years

In 1959, the goal of establishing Stichting Bouwresearch was to encourage and facilitate research into new approaches to building. During its formative years, the organization was greatly influenced by its first chairman, the late Herman Witte, a former priest. Surprisingly, the Civil Engineering Centre Implementation, Research and Regulation (CUR), which would subsequently combine with it, was established in 1952, seven years before.

Post-War Reconstruction Era

Reconstruction efforts following WWII were a driving force for the establishment of both CUR and Stichting Bouwresearch. In order to reconstruct the nation, new construction knowledge and procedures were required throughout that era. These methods and insights had to fill massive knowledge gaps about the behavior of crucial building materials, such as reinforced and prestressed concrete.

Initial Focus and Objectives

The goal of Stichting Bouwresearch was to fill up the gaps in our understanding of reinforced and prestressed concrete and other building materials. Because small businesses make up the bulk of the construction industry, this concentration was critical for their ability to exchange knowledge and implement new building techniques.

Headquarters and Early Operations

Located directly across from the Bouwcentrum, the Groothandelsgebouw in Rotterdam was the original home of Stichting Bouwresearch. Because of its closeness to the building sector, it was able to launch with relative ease.

Renaming and Leadership Changes

Under the leadership of engineer Jack de Leeuw, the foundation changed its name to SBR in 2003. In his tenure as CEO, SBR produced several groundbreaking papers and standards that pushed the building industry forward.

Significant Contributions

The many publications that SBR produced on a wide range of construction-related subjects allowed them to make significant contributions. Notable among its many contributions to the field were the standards it established for the vibrations of building systems.

Key Publications and Research Areas

A broad variety of subjects were covered in SBR’s publications, such as:

  • Material Management: Optimal methods for working with building assets.
  • Cost Control and Financing: Methods for overseeing the budget of building projects.
  • Policy Planning and Transport: Efficient construction-related coordination and preparation.

Merger and Formation of SBRCURnet

Stichting Bouwresearch and CURnet came together in 2013 to become SBRCURnet. This new organization, headed by Jeannette Baljeu and housed at Delft University of Technology, carried on the tradition with a staff of around fifty individuals.

Functioning as a Knowledge Partner

Collaborating with several committees, SBRCURnet served as an essential knowledge partner, creating and documenting new information in the fields of civil engineering and construction. Practical applications on building sites were also part of the group’s remit.

Dissemination of Knowledge

Among SBRCURnet’s primary functions was the dissemination of information through popular products like:

  • SBR Reference Details
  • Information Sheets
  • CUR Recommendations

The construction industry in the Netherlands developed to rely on these materials heavily.

Challenges and Closure

In spite of all the good it has done, SBRCURnet ran into financial difficulties and went out of business on December 31, 2017. That sad shutting down was brought about by a lack of financing.

Transition of Activities

After SBRCURnet closed, CROW assumed responsibility for the firm’s civil engineering projects. A different knowledge institute specializing in installation and building technologies took over its built environment operations at the same time.

Legacy and Influence

Thanks to the ground-breaking information and guidelines they offered, Stichting Bouwresearch, SBR, and SBRCURnet have left an indelible mark on the field. They left an indelible mark on the Dutch construction sector with their groundbreaking work, which is still shaping contemporary methods today.


The work of Stichting Bouwresearch was critical to the development of Dutch building expertise. From its inception in 1959 until its transformation into SBRCURnet, the institution achieved notable strides in the sector. Even though it shut down in 2017, the impact of its research and publications may be felt even today.


What was Stichting Bouwresearch?

The Dutch research institute Stichting Bouwresearch was established in 1959 with a primary focus on building installations and construction.

Why was it established?

During the reconstruction period after World War II, it was set up to encourage and facilitate research into new building techniques.

What were its main contributions?

 Material management, cost control, policy planning, and the development of standards for building installation vibrations were all areas in which the institution published extensively, making important contributions.

What happened to SBRCURnet?

 Financial difficulties caused SBRCURnet, which was established by merging SBR and CURnet, to stop operations in 2017. Soon after, CROW and another research institute assumed control of its operations.

How does its legacy continue today?

 The standards and underlying information that were given continue to impact contemporary building practices in the Netherlands, carrying on the heritage.

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