The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Click to see full size. Photo © Sarah Duncan
Photo © Sarah Duncan
Photo © Sarah Duncan
Photo © Sarah Duncan

100 Buildings 100 Years

1916: Holland House, London

Status: Listed Grade II*
Condition: Good condition
Type: Commercial/offices
Architect: H P Berlage
Location: 1-4 Bury Street, London EC3A 5AT

I find it hard to believe that Holland House was built during the first world war (although the Netherlands were neutral). Designed for a Dutch shipping company by Berlage, the eminent Dutch architect, it seems to me to mark the transition from Art Nouveau to Art Deco and introduces something continental and exciting to the cityscape.

Cited as the first steel framed building in Europe, its green glazed walls rising from a black plinth cleverly appear solid when viewed from certain angles. The windows only become apparent as you move to face the building head on from the open space around the Gherkin.

On one corner, a stylised relief of a ship steaming forward seems to symbolise the role of shipping companies at the time being in the forefront of design and style, much like this building.

I am nominating Holland House because it is unexpected, innovative and intriguing. It makes me want to book a sea crossing to Europe on the Muller line!

by Sarah Wittekind

Listing description

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