Groot Handelsgebouw

The 'Groot Handelsgebouw' (Wholesale building) is one of the symbols of the 'wederopbouw' (rebuilding) of Rotterdam after WWII. It also has been the place where Kokon has settled from its inception, and that's no coincidence.

Immediately after WWII, Rotterdam required enormous amounts of commercial real estate, especially for wholesale businesses that were hit hard by the bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940. Plans for new real estate where made, and one large building with many businesses was easier to realise than multiple buildings for one or only a few businesses. At the initiative of, among others, the Industriestichting (Industry foundation) and the Chamber of Commerce, plans were made to house all wholesale companies together in one large building. Therefore, architects Van Tijen and Maaskant, who had been running an office since 1937, started planning a large 'wholesale beehive' immediately after the war ended. Inspired by the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, they came up with the idea to build a multi-company building to the west of Rotterdam Central Station.

The building was opened in 1953, and was christened 'Groothandelsgebouw'. Especially modern for that time were transport roads with loading docks all through the building, for easy and fast delivery and distribution of products. The building featured shops and hospitality businesses at the ground floor, like the 'Engels' restaurant, that still resides in the building. One of the first businesses that immediately chose to settle in the Groothandelsgebouw, was the office of Van Tijen & Maaskant, that after some name changes, now under the name of Kokon Architectuur & Stedenbouw, still resides in the building. For a long time, the 'Groothandelsgebouw', that nowadays is officially classified as a national heritage site (Rijksmonument), used to be the largest building in The Netherlands, with over 100,000 m² of commercial space for rent.

Fotografie: Ossip van Duivenbode, GHG

Location Rotterdam
Huig Maaskant architect founder
Willem van Tijen architect founder