Last Tuesday morning Esveha moved into its new premises on Delftsestraat in rather formal fashion. (…) The building makes a highly pleasant impression. At ground level it contains not only offices but also a meeting room, a packing and delivery room, and a spacious garage. In the basement are a canteen and showroom. The upper floors are used as storage depots. Standing alone on the street, the structure is highly conspicuous in the city centre.
Het Vrije Volk, 2 August 1950
The offices of the paper wholesaler Esveha on Botersloot were totally destroyed in the bombardment. Esveha, previously called Ph. Simons & Co and founded in 1876, had its main office in The Hague. The name ‘Esveha’ was derived from the trademark ‘SVH’ (Simons, Veerkade, Haag). During the war years the Rotterdam architect Hendrik Breur (1883-1958) had designed a new commercial building close to the old building, but it never materialized because of the halt in construction. In the Basis Plan for rebuilding the city, Esveha was allocated a much better site on Delftsestraat, close to Centraal Station and the new city centre. The Architect Committee rejected Breur as architect and the celebrated architect J.J.P. Oud (1890-1963) was appointed as ‘aesthetic advisor’. According to the contract, Oud’s task was: ‘to design the front and rear facades, as well as the interior, for which we have gladly received your pledge to assist Mr Breur where necessary for the interior layout and finishing’. The first pile was driven into the ground in January 1949 and the building opened on 1 August 1950.
The uncomplicated and functional street facade is remarkable, well-proportioned and meticulously detailed. Everything exudes a sense of craftmanship.
Rotterdam Bouwt, 1950-5
Dominating the facade of this office building is the structural grid. The circular concrete columns at two-metre intervals form striking vertical lines. Prefabricated concrete panels below the windows feature a cream-grey decorative layer. Windows and doors are made of aluminium, a new material at the time. The plinth is finished in dark-green Spanish granite. A profiled cornice crowns the top of the facade, which measures 16 by 16 metres. With a depth of 15 metres, the building is almost a perfect cube.
Located on the ground floor were the management offices, beside the asymmetrically positioned entrance, above which Oud placed letters designed by himself. Contained behind the regular, harmonious facade were all sorts of functions: shop, office space, caretaker’s home, canteen, and especially storage space. At the rear, the building extended at ground floor level with a delivery department, accessible from a service street.
Initially, the building could be seen to great effect because it stood alone on Delftsestraat. On the instructions of the supervisors, and to Oud’s displeasure, the neighbours had to adapt their designs, with the effect that one building copied the facade dimensioning almost exactly, thereby diminishing the effect of Oud’s composition.
Hans Oud, - J.J.P. Oud, Architekt 1890-1963, The Hague 1984 p. 153
If the building hadn’t been designed by the celebrated architect J.J.P. Oud, it would probably have received scant attention. The facade on Delftsestraat was totally inconspicuous. However, Oud’s fame couldn’t prevent the disappearance of the careful colour scheme of the facade composition, because the building has since been painted completely black. Moreover, some eye-catching decorative elements were also painted onto the front after art production collective Mothership moved in. Like the other buildings on Delftsestraat, the building has on the one hand suffered from years of uncertainty concerning its possible demolition, but on the other hand it has benefitted from the newfound dynamism in the area.