The Bank (former Amrobank)

Rembrandtplein 47, Amstelstraat 12, Herengracht 595-597
H.P. Berlage en B.J. Ouëndag (1932). Verbouwing: K. Rijnboutt, Frederik Vermeesch
Verbouwing: Rijnboutt
Verbouwing: Kroonenberg Groep
Verbouwing: Vesteda
Verbouwing: Bouwbedrijf Midreth B.V.

A vault in the city

These days a bank building can never be transparent enough. Architects vie to see who can introduce the most light, air and space in a design. This transparency is intended to show that the bank has nothing to hide and to convince clients that their money is in safe hands. This has not always been the case. In the past, people preferred to put their money away behind a solid façade, such as that of the Amro Bank in Rembrandtplein.

The design by the architects H.P. Berlage and B.J. Ouëndag of 1926, together with other bank buildings of the first half of the twentieth century in the city centre, forms quite a contrast with the glass palaces that have been built in the Zuidas district in the last decade. If the Amro bank looks like a fortress today, when it was completed in 1932 it was even more introverted.

Where there are now shop windows underneath the arcades, up until a radical redevelopment of the building in 1966, there had been just a few narrow bronze-barred windows, surrounded by large blocks of rough natural stone. Although the clock tower at the corner of Rembrandtplein and Amstelstraat is slender in design, its brick cladding gives rise to a solid profile.

The redevelopment in 1966 involved a radical restructuring of the ground floor and of the top storey in particular. A glazed pavilion roof was added, which has given the building’s silhouette a crystalline character. This is very apparent when one stands on the Blauwbrug and looks in the direction of Rembrandtplein.

During the nineties, more and more banks relocated from the city centre to new business parks in the Arena area and the Zuidas district. The Amro bank building also fell vacant. Several years ago, however, it was bought by a developer and was again radically redeveloped, to a design by the architectural firm Rijnboutt.

This stately building by Berlage and Ouëndag is soon to be reopened as ‘The Bank’, a mixed-use building with offices, shops and restaurants. The developer’s website gives a foretaste of what we can expect on this hitherto rather dull corner of Rembrandtplein. Not only will the building be more open on the inside, on the ground floor, too, there will be more glass and light. As a result, ‘The Bank’ will look slightly more like the glass buildings on the southern edge of the city. (ARCAM)