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‘De Nederlandsche Bank’: “The renovation starts”

Visitors to Amsterdam will no doubt notice the Dutch National Bank at Frederiksplein – to be precise in the neighbourhood of the Heineken Experience Centre. I have been living between these two buildings, at Stadhouderskade, for six years now. In the Netherlands we refer to my place as: “between the money and the beer”.
In this part of the city we frequently used to joke amongst ourselves, and our friends and neighbours, that we came here to rob the bank via un underground passage running from our house to the gold, which for long time was stored deep in the deep cellars of the bank.

For me, the area is even more memorable. I was born here many years ago in Utrechtsestraat, just the other side of the bank direction city centre. I even remember parts of the ‘Paleis voor Volksvlijt’, which was built in 1856 at the same place. A beautiful building – similar to Crystal Palace in London or Le Grand Palais in Paris – which unfortunately burned down a long time ago (1928). However, a garden and some remnants of the buildings were still there when I was young.

In 1960 it was all demolished to make space for the new Dutch National Bank – in my view a rather boring and soulless building, made up of a rectangular very high and a round also high section overlooking the city centre and proudly guarding the money stashed in the cellars.

Sixty years on (following many discussions typical of the ‘Amsterdammers’) they have now started to demolish the round section, which will completely disappear, and the building will be opened to the public following extensive renovation. However, first and foremost the gold was removed from the cellars and taken to another location outside Amsterdam. We now joke that we will have to stop digging to find the underground cellars of the bank and make plans to move!

The good thing, however, is that the existing building will have an open structure and beautiful gardens will provide a passage underneath the building to the other side. That’s a great improvement …But the view is not only blocked by the round tower, but also blocked by the rectangular skyscraper, but hey, who cares?!

For several months now two white canvas banners have been on display on both sides of the facade of the imposing ‘Nederlandsche Bank’ building in Amsterdam. Where you would have expected a sign-maker to have produced a beautiful facade canvas with an attractive representation and appropriate text, there’s a limp, crooked white bed sheet hanging off both sides of the building announcing in black letters: ‘The renovation starts! ‘

It appears that this renovation is going to take a while, because a large part of the building will have to be demolished and the entire site redesigned, by which time we will probably know that: The renovation has started!

It’s an amazing printed bed sheet hanging out, obviously not produced by a sign-maker or wide format printer. So, herewith a message to all the sign-makers and wide format printers in Europe: why not taking the chance to contact the marketing division of the Dutch National Bank with a nice proposal? Because now we have for years to look to that filthy bed sheet that I even can see from my window!

(p.s. latest news: they have now signs on the wooden renovation wall around the building..)

Ton Rombout, Editor-in-Chief, SignPro Europe