C. ELFFERS, A.A. VAN NIEUWENHUIJZEN, 1941-1950, Blaak 34, Rotterdam
Bankgebouw Nederlandsche Handel-maatschappij / Bank Building Nederlandsche Handel-maatschappij ( C. Elffers, A.A. van Nieuwenhuijzen )
© 2007 Rook & Nagelkerke
Although the post-war rebuilding of Rotterdam was dominated by the 'objective' architecture of the Groothandelsgebouw (Wholesale Building) and the Lijnbaan shopping precinct, the first new buildings to emerge after the war were these traditional bank premises: the Twentsche Bank by A. van der Steur, B. Hooijkaas Bzn. and B. van Veen, this building for the Nederlandsche Handel-maatschappij (Netherlands Trading Society) by C. Elffers and A.A. van Nieuwenhuyzen and the Amsterdamsche Bank/Incassobank by the Kraaijvanger brothers. Almost identical in volume, they share the same building line so as to present a monumental urban elevation along Blaak.
A glass-roofed light court in the middle of the building for the Netherlands Trading Society is there to give its offices sufficient daylight. Walls and floors in the central public entrance area and the strongroom are clad in Calacatta marble. The facades are dominated by a grid of brick piers with an infill of decorative brickwork and steel frames. The asymmetrically placed main entrance on Blaak is clearly marked with an imposing gateway bearing a bronze emblem of the NTS and two groups of mermaids on the entrance canopy.
Mergers in the banking world deprived these buildings of their duty as head office. At the end of the 1980s, there were plans to demolish them and replace them with new-build. Comité Wederopbouw, an initiative concerned with preserving reconstruction-era architecture, protested against these plans with success. In 1995 the three banks were proclaimed city monuments and at present contain offices and related functions.