Headquarters Wella

Keizersgracht 300
J.B. Ingwersen
Tram 1-2-5-13-17-24
Robert Mens, Bart Lootsma en Jos Bosman, Le Corbusier en Nederland, Utrecht, Kwadraat, 1985.

Office infill on Keizersgracht

The head office of soap manufacturer Wella on Keizersgracht is one of the few truly modern buildings to have been inserted in the architecture of the canal frontage. It was designed by the architect J.B. Ingwersen, who in the late fifties entered the employment of the architectural firm De Geus, which was soon renamed De Geus and Ingwersen. Ingwersen’s architecture was strongly influenced by the French modernist Le Corbusier. Depending on the function, size and context of the building, Ingwersen borrowed from the formal idiom of his example.

The plot on Keizersgracht was deep and narrow. Contrary to the urbanistic principles formulated by Le Corbusier in the twenties and thirties, the Wella building had to stand on the building line and form part of the monumental facade frontage on Keizersgracht. Ingwersen designed a resolutely modern building, which fits in perfectly between the eighteenth-century facades on the canal. The brises-soleil are a striking Corbusian element. Further, the building has the traditional facade organization of an Amsterdam canal house: a tripartite division of basement, middle section and roof. The proportions in the facade also reflect the monumental structure of the canal houses. The set-back roof storey provides a splendid transition between the neighbouring edifices and Ingwersen’s taller building. (ARCAM/JEA)