The former head office of the Dutch Trading Company

One of the four great monuments from the past

The Bazel building

Next to the Paleis op de Dam, the Stadhuis/Muziektheater, the Rijksmuseum and the Scheepvaarthuis is the Basel building, named after architect K.P.C. de Bazel. The Nederlandsche Aannemingsmaatschappij (Nedam) built this mighty monument between 1919 and 1926 for the headquarters of the Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij (NHM), which later became the ABN AMRO bank.

On the west side of the Vijzelstraat, the Basel building extends from the Herengracht to the Keizersgracht. The building is considered a masterpiece. The house architect of the NHM, has put down a striking creation. Whereas other canal houses are no higher than five storeys, 'de Bazel' has ten stories, three of which are underground. De Bazel accommodated over six hundred NHM staff members.

  • 10

    Stories high

  • 100

    Wide

Special construction

A load-bearing reinforced concrete column construction forms the basis of the building. This allowed roof sections to be omitted, which led to impressive light incidence. The concrete skeleton is hidden from view by a covering of cobblestones and granite so that on the outside the building appears to have old-fashioned load-bearing walls.

On the inside, the building is modern. Hidden ventilation ducts in hollow floors ran through the entire building. Grilles sucked out dirty air and supplied heated air. Electric light was another invention that equipped the building. Finally, the office complex had a conveyor system by tube, with which they could transport goods.

Universal harmony

Five protruding parts (risalites) on the front facade suppress the massiveness of the building and give it vertical accents. The architect of the Basel building was inspired by the architecture of ancient Assyria and Egypt, but gave it his personal twist. Ultimately, he wanted to move away from time-bound styles and create buildings with eternal value.

When the Basel building reached its highest point in 1923, it towered over the old canal houses of the Golden Bend. Many Amsterdammer residents were shocked, but the Beauty Commission judged that a high-rise block at Vijzelstraat was not out of place. In 1991, it was given the status of a national monument. The municipality of Amsterdam bought the building to house the municipal archives in 2006, after a thorough renovation.