How do you build an office block for almost 1500 staff, in a time when building materials are scarce, the First World War is creating a hugely uncertain situation and contractors' margins are very high to cover the risks?
That was the question in 1918 for a non-profit venture called Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways), in which the two largest railway companies in the Netherlands had joined forces. This company (which would later become NS) needed a striking new head office. But who was able to construct that enormous building?
We’ll do it ourselves
The solution to the problem was found quickly: we’ll do it ourselves. We will produce 22 million bricks ourselves, by taking over the Molenheide brickworks in Schijndel. We will get the 4000 m³ of oak needed for the building work by opening our own timber yard. And we will transport all the construction materials ourselves along the canals in Utrecht by purchasing two large motorised barges.
This allowed Spoorwegen to construct a wonderful building in just three years. De Inktpot (The Inkpot), as it became known, is still standing close to Utrecht Central Station and it now has listed building status.
The founding of Strukton
De Inktpot represented not only the birth of NS but also the birth of Strukton: after the successful construction work, N.V. Het Spoorwegbouwbedrijf (the Railway Construction Limited Company) was founded in 1921. In 1952, the company moved from Schijndel to Maarssen. And in 1972, it merged with the Danish construction company Christiani & Nielsen, from which the Strukton Group arose in 1974. This was followed by a number of years of strong growth.
From 1918 till now