The Holbeinhuis becomes the living room of entrepreneurial Rotterdam


The iconic Holbeinhuis located at Coolsingel 65, corner of Stadhuisplein in Rotterdam is being renovated and made ready for the future. Dutch insurer Athora Netherlands bought the office building in 2013 and has ambitious plans. Erik Vester, Head of Real Estate & Alternative Fixed Income at Athora Netherlands: "The Holbeinhuis is situated at one of the most prominent locations in Rotterdam and deserves a renovation that will allow the first built office building on the Coolsingel to move forward again for years. The renovation plans are a tangible example of how we are making our real estate portfolio sustainable and future-proof."

Kraaijvanger architects is once again involved. Previously, the Rotterdam architectural firm designed the Holbein House for the 'Basler Transport Versicherungs Gesellschaft' between 1951 and 1954. Now Kraaijvanger is creating a distinctive, exclusive signature that combines historic, classic elements with a contemporary, urban interior with a tough Rotterdam touch. Together with CBRE Development Services, they are turning the Holbeinhuis into a leading workplace for professional companies in Rotterdam where new users can move in from mid-2023. Leasing will be handled by CBRE Advisory & Transaction Services Office Rotterdam.

Photo: Paul Starink

David Hess, Architect and partner at Kraaijvanger: "In our proposal, we placed great value on the timeless quality of the building. For us, there was no question that we wanted to bring back the original allure of the building."

Allure & sustainability ambition

The building is named after the German painter Hans Holbein the Younger, who painted Erasmus four times. The mosaic of 14 by 7 meters, created by Louis van Roode, adorns the facade over three floors. Throughout the years various adjustments have been made to the building so that it has lost its appearance of yesteryear. In addition, the installations are very outdated. For Athora, this is therefore the perfect moment to invest in an office building at a prime location and thus to give substance to its sustainability ambitions and investment strategy. "Renovating the building and making it more sustainable fits in with our sustainable investment strategy. In the Netherlands we invest in offices, residential property and logistics. In doing so, we strive for an optimal investment result in combination with a sustainability ambition. For offices, we invest only in properties that have an A-label or at least the potential to have such a label. In addition, we are making existing real estate more sustainable. The Holbeinhuis fits within this strategy for the full 100% and we are proud that with this investment we can give this characteristic building back its allure", says Erik Vester.

Kraaijvanger Architects was selected to give the building an upgrade; both in appearance, energy performance and use. The design emphasizes the timeless quality of the building and the return of its original allure. David Hess, Architect and partner at Kraaijvanger: "Due to the many small renovations over the decades, a closed appearance had developed. We wanted to make the huge basement accessible and usable and to make the building more suitable for a multi-tenant interpretation." By adding voids, the basement, first floor and mezzanine are spatially connected and create a physical connection between the 3 building floors. This also creates a connection between the Coolsingel and the Sint-Luciastraat behind. The current staircase will be connected to the platform of the mezzanine, thus creating a direct connection to the entrance. The building will become inviting again and will once more enter into a dialogue with the Coolsingel.

After the renovation, the Holbeinhuis will have 9 high-quality office floors of 450 to 1,100 m² GLA. In addition, upon completion the office will offer two roof terraces, one of which will be communal, a mezzanine with coffee facilities and landing areas, flexible meeting facilities and meeting places in the basement, and a hospitable host. After the renovation, the building will have energy label A and BREAAM Very Good thanks to the installation of LED lighting, heat recovery and the use of green roofs, among other things.

Photo: Paul Starink

Rotterdam landmark

"The Holbein House is a landmark in Rotterdam," said Its Bakker, Director Development Services CBRE. "At this unique office location amidst the dynamism of the city, facilitating and unburdening the users is central. The classic building will be transformed into a sustainable, high-end office with contemporary facilities where the authentic character will be cherished. We are very proud that we can make this great building ready for the future in cooperation with Athora."

Michel Blokland Associate Director Advisory & Transaction Services CBRE, "The renovated Holbeinhuis is an excellent fit with the increasing demand in the Rotterdam office market for quality office space, whereby the office must be a pleasant meeting place." This will be the place on the Coolsingel that acts as a living room for entrepreneurial Rotterdam. A welcoming workplace where working, meeting people and relaxing in the open air all merge effortlessly.

The beginning of wisdom is to know yourself - Erasmus