The Droogbak stands in a extraordinary spot; it is the only building in its street that still recalls the time that ships were built here. Close to the Central Station, it was built in 1884, designed by the architects and Posthumes Meijjes Margadant, as headquarters of the Holland Iron Railway Company. It is one of the first large-scale buildings of Amsterdam; together with the railway it inspired an economic recovery for the city after a long period of decline.
In the 1970’s plans were made to make a four-lane highway from the Wibautstraat across the Nieuwmarkt to the Haarlemmer Houttuinen; the Droogbak was to be torn down. Activists opposed to these plans, and ultimately the decision fell in 1978 in the city council with 23 against to 22 votes that the highway could come no further than the first part of the St.. Antoniesbreestraat.
In the 1980’s the Droogbak was to be an inspiration again, now for the prestigious IJ-Oever project (developing the borders of the IJ), in which the municipality of Amsterdam and ING Real Estate both invest. Shortly after the property was purchased, however, the business/office market collapsed and interest dwindled for the building. Since that time it has served as Government Building, Land Registry Building, Archaeological Museum, Higher Education; the current tenant is the lawyer firm Clifford Change. In 2001 the building was declared a National monument.
The redevelopment was based on all the requirements for a modern office building, without changing the characteristic architectural image and details. The interventions made the colossal building better accessible. Unique is the transparent glass roof of the courtyard which creates an atrium that serves as a library, traffic- and waiting room.
All rooms around the court yard function as offices. Thanks to the glass roof employees on all floors have ample daylight.
Secondary functions such as toilets are grouped around the staircases. The outside rooms with their historic ceilings and finished lists were maintained. Existing chimneys, detailed paneling and crafted doors remained intact or were restored. In order to have a properly functioning courtyard an opening was created to the entrance and the monumental staircase. The existing toilet blocks were removed. The floor of the courtyard (625 m2) was lifted to 3 m above street level. Under the Atrium a parking garage is made on street level, for more than 25 cars plus a bicycle storage. The glass roof of the Atrium is an octagonal structure (= 3d structure) consisting of steel wires and two-sided laminated solar controlled glass. This explicit addition to the building is invisible from the street side.
The horizontal layered facade has again a classical appearance. The stone of the facades has been given a proper cleanup. The old tympana and ornaments have been replaced. Without reducing the architectural value of the building 10,000 m² office space was realized.
In the building the old climate facilities with steam pipes were found, a wondrous system with in each room a place for a coal stove. The ducts in the corridors were hardly used. These are now used to invisibly harbor high-quality technical facilities such as air ducts, exhaust systems, heating equipment and computer cables. Part of the equipment is also installed in the sunken floors, while the monumental walls could not be damaged.
Buildings as these function as donors for new area developments, and are an invaluable asset to the city.
With the latest technology, this monument got a new live.