Unilever’s new HQ has shed its mundane image with jazzy architecture and a commitment to sustainability. Even Amsterdammers are interested
If Unilever plc’s recent announcement about moving its corporate HQ out of London rang with the dread air of Brexodus, it was drowned out by the buzz already emanating from the company’s new home: Rotterdam. The Netherlands’ gritty second city once struggled to maintain even that ranking in Dutch hearts, as revealed by the well-worn motto: “Amsterdam to party, Den Haag to live, Rotterdam to work.” But the last decade has put paid to that dismissal, with showstoppers such as Rem Koolhaas’s De Rotterdam and the horseshoe-shaped Markthal bulwarking the city’s reputation for adventurous architecture, cheap rents pulling in the creative crowd, and the rest of the world finally clueing up to life beyond the container port. Vogue recently called the city nothing less than “the Dutch Brooklyn”.