There are quite a number of ‘Holland Houses’ in the capital – the remains of a Jacobean country home in Holland Park, Kensington; a school in Edgware; a student hostel near Victoria – but it’s only outside Holland House in Bury Street in The City (a stone’s throw from the Gherkin), that they still fly the Dutch flag.
This Holland House dates from 1916 and is sometimes called the first modern office block in London. Designed by the Dutch modernist architect Henrik Petrus Berlage, it was the first steel-framed building in Europe, with walls of green glazed terracotta bricks (shipped in from Delft) rising from a black plinth. (It is also said to be the first office block in Britain to have an atrium.)
It was built for the Dutch shipping company Wm H Muller + Co, and its links to maritime trade can be seen in a lovely low relief sculpture on the corner of the building. This is by the Dutch sculptor Joseph Mendes da Costa, and is the front perspective of a steamship ploughing through the waves, a fitting symbol of both the source of the money that built Holland House and of the innovative spirit of the time.