New head office Nutsspaarbank

On 17 December 1921, after long periods of planning and building with multiple delays, the new building of the Nutsspaarbank finally celebrated its official opening. The monumental building on the corner of Jan Hendrikstraat and Riviervismarkt served as the head office of The Hague branch of the Nutsspaarbank from 1921 until 1992.

Leggen van de eerste steen op 20 april 1920.
Laying of the first stone on April 20, 1920.


Fundering van de Haagse Nutsspaarbank (Het Nutshuis) wordt gelegd.
The foundation of the Hague Nutsspaarbank (Het Nutshuis) is being laid.
De Nutsspaarbank (Het Nutshuis) aan de Riviervismarkt in Den Haag
The Nutsspaarbank (Het Nutshuis) at the Riviervismarkt in The Hague.


Making way for busy car traffic

The neo-Gothic building of the Nutsspaarbank, designed by Paul du Rieu and opened in 1895, had to make way for the widening of Jan Hendrikstraat in 1914. New traffic flows arrived from Westeinde. This was primarily due to the urban expansions on this side of the city. Moreover, on market days, droves of Westlanders came to take advantage of the new steam tram. In the meantime, more and more shops and companies were concentrated in the city center of The Hague. Traffic was increasingly a cause for concern.

Not only local, but also interurban connecting routes ran through narrow streets such as Venestraat and Vlamingstraat. Solutions were diligently sought, but a decision was not made until January 1912. Two new traffic routes would be built straight through the city center: first, the Grote Marktstraat , and second, the Jan Hendrikstraat – Torenstraat – Vondelstraat section. It was clear that this was going to cost a lot of money. The last section alone required the expropriation and demolition of 766 homes. It took until 1922 before the first house in Jan Hendrikstraat was demolished. The Nutsspaarbank, temporarily housed in the idiot asylum behind the former bank building, had already taken action earlier and built a brand new building in 1921. The bank, which had of course taken the new building line into account, had in retrospect been too forward. The new street was initially going to be 16 meters wide, but later it turned out to be much too narrow for the growing car traffic. In 1924 it was decided to make it 20 meters, with the result that the Nutsspaarbank was located four meters from the building line. This is still clearly visible on the Jan Hendrikstraat side: the Ibis hotel, formerly part of the Nutsspaarbank head office, is on the building line.

Investment versus restraint

A lot of time elapsed between the plans for a new office building and the start of the actual building work. The municipality announced its plans in 1911, but the first stone wasn’t laid until 1920. There were several reasons why it took so long to put the building plans into practice. First, there was a gap of a few years between the municipality making its announcement and actually making concrete plans. So it wasn’t until 1914 that the bank installed a building committee to decide on the site and size of its new head office.

The Hague architect Samuel de Clercq was an advisor to this committee. In April 1914, he presented two alternative proposals: one for a smaller building to be used exclusively by the bank, and one for a larger building, part of which could be sub-let.
Opinion within the committee was divided. Some of the members were concerned about the risks of sub-letting, while others saw it as a welcome source of new income. They finally chose the second option. De Clercq went back to the drawing board and made two different designs for a two-storey building.

The murder of Franz Ferdinand in the summer of 1914 prompted increasing unrest in Europe. World War I broke out and the bank was faced with a dilemma; should it invest wisely and build a new head office, or should it exercise restraint and save the money it had?

The board, however, had other things on its mind. Savers had started withdrawing their money en masse at the outbreak of World War I and the bank was doing its best to keep control of the situation. A year later, the committee still hadn’t decided which option to choose. This only changed when in September 1915, the municipality announced that it was going full steam ahead with its development plans.

As the bank’s building was being demolished against its wishes, the board thought it was due reasonable compensation from the municipality. But the war had made building materials scare and the cost of land was dropping. The municipality postponed the demolition in 1916 and De Clercq’s design was finally approved in January 1917.

Despite the fact that De Clercq had altered and simplified his plans, the price of building materials was still far too high. The contract was only awarded a year after the end of World War I, in October 1919. The old building was knocked down and on 20 April 1920, the first stone of het Nutshuis was finally laid.

Sustainable and sober

It took a staggering 116 weeks to build Het Nutshuis. Much of this delay was caused by strikes. The exterior facades were built first, then the interior walls. The highest point was reached on 4 November 1920, when the two roof rafters were lifted into place. Two months later, two chimneys were erected on the roof, along with the metal sign advertising ‘1818 Hoofdkantoor Nutsspaarbank 1921’.  

Once the exterior was firmly in place, attention turned to the details of the interior, and the construction of the vaults. Austerity was the key. The building was designed to have lift, but this plan was put aside due to the cost. What’s more, simplicity played a large part in the final details and many of the old furnishings were restored and/or renovated to be re-used.

Only the Board Room and the manager’s office were given new oak furnishings. A modern telephone exchange, vacuum cleaner and time-keeping system were the only compromises to the modern day. And on 17 December 1921, it was time for the grand opening. Chair J.H. Andries and Mayor J. Patijn had the honour of officially opening Het Nutshuis.

De commissarrissenkamer in de Nutsspaarbank
The supervisory boardroom in the Nutsspaarbank
De directiekamer in de Nutsspaarbank
De directors room in the Nutsspaarbank.


Opening brochure of the new head office

The Hague-based newspaper Het Vaderland took a peek behind the scenes at the brand-new Nutshuis building and was highly impressed. The paper quoted an opening brochure, which gave the following description: "The public enter the building into a spacious lobby with a glass roof providing a wealth of daylight. Two foundation stones are bricked into the long wall; one mentioning the foundation of the bank and its branches, the other mentioning those who contributed to the development of the building. The service tills are to the left. On the right, there is a lectern. This is where the accountant sits, so that he can watch over the staff. The main body of the vaults is in the middle of the building, divided over three floors. This is where books and valuable papers can be stored safely and protected from fire. The cloakroom and staff rest room are at the front on the right. The waiting room and manager’s office are to the left. A corridor running round the outside of the various rooms allows the manager to walk from place to place, out of sight of the public. The counting machine is in an office on the Jan Hendrikstraat side. This office has been fitted with double glazing to counter the noise of the machine. The stairs up to the Board Room, in the middle of the building at the front,  are next to the manager’s office. In view of the expected growth of the company, a few rooms on the first floor and in the basement have been left empty, to be assigned at a later date."

New function

In 2002, the bank moved out of the building, designed by De Clercq. The building underwent extensive renovations and re-opened its door in 2006. Social organizations moved in and a new destination was given to 'Het Nutshuis'. Het Nutshuis would become a stopping place, a place where exhibitions were held and art programs were shown. Nowadays, Het Nutshuis serves as a rental location, party venue, business center and is still owned by Fonds 1818 (the fund that emerged from the sale of the bank in 1992).

Oude foto van de Nutsspaarbank aan de Riviervismarkt in Den Haag
De Nutsspaarbank (Het Nutshuis) aan de Riviervismarkt in Den Haag