History of De Bazel
De Bazel, named after its architect Karel de Bazel (1869-1923), was build between 1919 en 1926 for the ‘Nederlandsche Handelmaatschappij’ (Dutch Trading Company). The building was officially granted national monument status by the Dutch government in 1991 for its rich colonial history, art deco architecture and the theosophical message the architect wanted to convey. The Dutch Trading Company ( VOC ), founded by King Willem I in 1824, had to stimulate the reclining Dutch economy in the nineteenth century. It was mostly active in the trade of colonial goods and is therefore seen as the successor of the famous ‘Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie’ (VOC).
Dutch Trading Company
At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Dutch economy was in rapid decline. With the establishment of the Nederlandsche Handel Maatschappij King Willem I tried to stimulate the economy and make The Netherlands again a major power in the world. During the nineteenth century trading in colonial goods gradually became less important and finally the Nederlandsche Handel Maatschappij was changed into a regular bank.
Karel de Bazel
De Bazel is designed by architect K.P.C. de Bazel and is considered his most important piece of work. It was built between 1919 and 1926. The architect died in 1923, three years before the building was completed. At the end of the nineteenth century more and more architects were searching for new ideas to realise their ideas. Karel de Bazel was one of them. He wanted his designs to be eternal and timeless and not associated with a specific trend. Karel de Bazel was strongly inspired by theosophical and esoteric ideas and he believed that our consciousness is unable to grasp the higher knowledge behind these ideas. Art, myths and symbols could be used as a mirror to convey their divine message. Building De Bazel is considered one of these art forms that reflect a higher goal and message. Light plays an important role in De Bazel, which expresses the ideas of the architect in which the unification with the divine (the light), or one’s self, is the highest goal in life.
According to theosophical ideas a building’s was to express universal harmony and therefore the architect’s task was a divine one. Mathematical principles could express the higher message in a building. In his design for the Nederlansche Handel Maatschappij the architect employed a strict regime and based the outline of the building on rectangles of 3.60 cm x 3.20 meters, while for the façade he used 90 cm as a basis.