Scheepvaarthuis, Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam

The Shipping House (Scheepvaarthuis)

In 1912 six Amsterdam shipping companies joined forces and commissioned the build of the Scheepvaart­huis (Shipping House) as a shared head office. The Prins Hendrik­kade, close to the Oostelijke Handelskade where trading ships docked, was seen as the perfect location. Existing houses on the Prins Hendrikkade 108-114 and Binnenkant 1-6 were demolished to make room for the new building. From this spot Cornelis Houtman left in 1595 for the first voyage to the East-Indies.

Map of the East Indies by Jodocus Hondius in 1606

Map of the East Indies by Jodocus Hondius in 1606

Architect & Style

Architect Van der Meij created the building adhering to the Amsterdam School, also inspired by the Art Nouveau movement. By inviting artists and colleagues to the project he aimed to create a total work of art. Maritime motifs were used even in the smallest details. It took three years to complete the first phase of the build. In 1916 the six shipping companies were operating from the prestigious building, selling tickets to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and Africa, but also from Java to New York, China, Japan and South America.

Scheepvaarthuis seen on the bow, Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam

The exterior resembles a ship’s bow on the corner of the Prins Hendrikkade and the Binnenkant. On the outside of the building there are 23 protruding heads, mostly of 17th century explorers, seafarers, cartographers and governors. At the entrance four marble statues represent the four big oceans. All around the building there is a recurring statue of a merchant and a sailor. Almost all decorations inside and outside the building are inspired by merchant, maritime and navigational subjects.

The booking counters are still there. There was a massive cast-iron walk-in safe in the basement. The building also has a working paternoster lift, even though it is not used anymore (a paternoster lift consists of a chain of open compartments that move slowly in a loop up and down inside a building without stopping).

Building history

The first phase of the build (1913-1916) already accounted for the second part (1926-1928) — all bricks were created at that time to avoid color differences later. The third building phase was supposed to be on the Buiten Bantammer­straat but was never executed. During the war the building was taken over by the German “Soziale Verwaltung”. In 1945 the shipping companies reclaimed their original floors.

In 1979 the Shipping House was sold to real-estate developer Maup Caransa, who sold it to the the City in 1983. It was then used by the city’s public transport company (GVB). In 1998 the Municipality sold the building to property developer Van Eijl. Demolition and clearance started in 2003. Architect Ray Kentie transformed the Scheepvaarthuis from 2005 on into the five-star deluxe Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam. The hotel opened in June 2007.

The Shipping House is located on the Prins Hendrikkade 108-114 and has been a Dutch National monument since 1974.

Grand Hotel Amrâth

Website: https://www.amrathamsterdam.com/en/index.html

Museum Het Schip and Grand Hotel Amrâth cooperate to organize guided tours in the building on Sundays at 11:00 AM: https://www.hetschip.nl/en/visitors/activities/sunday-arrangement-scheepvaarthuis

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