I was there when the building rose from the ashes of what had once stood there; I made my own contribution to the building with my art. It was in the post-war reconstruction period, a time when the solidity and robustness of a building was intended as a symbol for the new society: you can bomb our city as much as you like, but you won’t break our spirit. However, das war einmal. Robustness is now classic and valued; it is monumental. And whatever is monumental, we cherish. That’s good. It’s even better to renew where necessary, to create new meaning. To respect the stately exterior, to accept it for what it is. To astonish instead with the interior by lavishing it with accessibility and openness, friendliness and light, lending the building a new expression, a new character, and allowing this to grow. With respect for history and my art, and ambition for the future. So, let it begin. Let the building take its place in the present day. Let it be an aesthetic response to what people want and require of it, today and tomorrow. Prepare the building to evolve organically with the spirit of the times.
Blaak House at 34 Blaak in Rotterdam originally belonged to the Nederlandsche Handelsmaatschappij (Netherlands Trading Society). Built in 1950, it was designed by Kees Elffers as a classic interpretation of reconstruction architecture and a counterpart to the modernist trend. The building, which has enjoyed listed status since 2010, deserved to have its hidden grandeur revealed in all its glory; to become, through the unveiling of its original qualities, the most stylish and imposing office building in Rotterdam.
commission: renovation of a historic bank building | location: Blaak 34 Rotterdam | client: Real-IS München | project management: Savills Amsterdam | structural engineer: Van Rossum | fire safety consultant: DGMR | building services consultant: Deerns | contractor: Van Omme & de Groot | floor area: 9.500 m² | design: 2015 | completion: 2017 | photography: Ossip van Duivenbode | particularities: nomination Herengracht Industrieprijs 2018, nomination Building of the Year 2018