Cornelis Johannes van Doorn

A keen eye for the possibilities of water and land

Cornelis van Doorn studied at the technical school in Utrecht and at the Royal Academy in Delft. From 1860, he was entitled to call himself a civil engineer. The brand-new engineer left immediately for Java and worked for a few years on the railway network, directed by T.J. Stieltjes. Back in the Netherlands, he helped build the state railway in North Holland. From 1965, he was involved in the construction of the North Sea Canal, focusing on the locks, the steam pumping station and the IJ dam at Schellingwoude.

His work did not go unnoticed: in 1871, the Japanese government invited Van Doorn to join them as an expert. He did. In the years that followed, he was involved in various influential projects in the field of harbour construction and river improvement. One of the most extraordinary projects was the irrigation of the infertile Asaka plain. He used the natural decline of the land to supply water over a distance of more than 50 kilometres. This played a crucial role in Koriyama’s growth from village to bustling city. A life-size bronze statue of Van Doorn stands near the Asaka Canal.

He returned to the Netherlands after 1880, where he collaborated on the Ducth manual on water engineering ‘Waterbouwkunde’ (1885) edited by N.H. Henket. Van Doorn died in Amsterdam in 1906.

Ir. Cornelis van Doorn received this award for his international achievements in the field of hydraulic engineering.