The ‘Inkwell’

The Inkwell (‘Inktpot’) is the name of ProRail’s iconic head office. Shaped like a giant ink well, it is the largest brick building in the Netherlands. More than 22 million bricks and 4,000 m³ of oak timber went into the construction of this building, and old rails were used for its foundation.

The building was constructed between 1919 and 1921 for the state-owned Dutch railway company, NS. At the time, the building was called Hoofdadministratiegebouw III (Main Administration Building III), but since NS’ departure, The Inkwell has been its official name.

A total of 22 million bricks were used in the construction of the building. NS acquired two brick factories, a timber company, three ships and a forest in the southern province of Limburg. Due to a scarcity of building materials, old rails were repurposed as part of the building’s foundations.

The design by railway engineer G.W. van Heukelom marks a departure from traditional historical styles. Many elements of the interior have been preserved, such as the listed stairwell and the Art Deco clocks in the offices. Part of the interior is lined with glazed bricks. The building was restored between 1999 and 2002; among other things, the facades were cleaned and the window frames replaced. The garden at the front of the building forms part of the whole.

One of the most striking things about the building is the UFO. This artwork, with a diameter of 12 metres, was originally created for Utrecht’s Panorama 2000 art exhibition, and has remained in place ever since.

Unfortunately, the interior of the Inkwell cannot be viewed by members of the public, as the building is in use as the ProRail head office. The building is sometimes opened up to the public as part of Heritage Day (Nationale Monumentendag), which takes place every year on the second weekend in September.


Moreelsepark 3, 3511 EP Utrecht