Blaak House

Blaak House, designed by Kees Elffers as a classical interpretation of reconstruction architecture dates from 1950 and initially accommodated the Netherlands Trading Society. The building is characterised by a distinctive brick facade with a stately portico and a splendid natural stone entrance. Although it was once considered as ‘ready for demolition’, in 2010 it was designated as a nationally listed building. The building was expanded in 1998, where space was added by adding an extra two storeys, but which also conceal a lot of its original quality. Due to the extensive renovation, the building once again became one of the foremost office buildings in Rotterdam – sophisticated, contemporary, which could be flexibly partitioned and was suitable for both single and multi tenant use.

Sublime office

Current requirements for office space and the vision of future developments were guided the transition from single to multi-tenant office use. The power of the plan consists of estimating the right value of all of the building elements and then reusing these in the right way in a new interior. This applies to the original elements, but also to the additions from 1998. For instance, the most important intervention consisted of removing the first floor at the level of the atrium. This enabled a connection to be created between the marble main entrance and the atrium, where all of the floors could be connected to the communal area on the ground floor. An extremely flexible multi-tenant building was created by making smart interventions in the cores, with an open ground floor and an extremely impressive atrium at its heart.

Fire safety

Fire safety solutions are precarious in a listed building. V8 Architects developed a fire safety concept with engineering and consultancy firm DGMR that fully meets current and anticipated regulations, but which allowed the original listed elements, such as the marble hall, the vaults, and the monumental meeting room to be kept in their original state. For instance, the original brass details can be found in a new door that resists fire for sixty minutes which seals the monumental entrance lobby.

Modern grandeur

The powerful verticality and finesse of the exterior façade is reflected in the atrium. Floor-transcending elements that provide not only fine acoustics and light but also privacy. The reflection of the new glass inner facade on the uppermost floors allows the maximum amount of light to enter and turns the utilitarian atrium roof into a scintillating element. The new openings in the atrium wall increase slightly increase in size downwards, as well as allowing as much daylight as possible to enter. The combination of these openings with (adjustable) LED lighting on the atrium wall creates tension and variation and enhances the experience of the space. The newly designed coves on the outer walls on the floors connect to the original architecture and give full scope once again to the lines of sight and daylight. These interventions once again bring the monumental quality and iconic qualities of the building to the fore: a combination of the original splendour, tactile elegance and modern technology that make Blaak House the most chic and main 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: 2018
  • photography: Ossip van Duivenbode
  • particularities: nomination Herengracht Industrieprijs 2018, nomination Building of the Year 2018