Hendrik P. Berlage was an artist, architect and philosopher whose innovative designs gave birth to Modernism in the Netherlands. His most famous work is the Beurs van Berlage, the old Amsterdam Stock Exchange.
Berlage aimed at designing functional buildings with spirit, meaning that his buildings served the purpose of bringing the community together. This mix of architectural function with social utility is what he coined as 'practical aesthetics' and what brings his philosophical ideas and architectural works together. In his search for a sense of community, Berlage draw influence from the classical greek and the Gothic European styles as opposed to the individualism of the Renaissance.
Berlage was also influenced by the Neo-Romanesque brickwork architecture of Henry Hobson Richardson and of the combination of structures of iron seen with brick of the Castle of the Three Geckos of Domènech i Montaner. This influence is visible in his design for the Amsterdam Commodities Exchange, for which he would also draw on the ideas of Viollet-le-Duc. The load-bearing bare brick walls and the notion of the primacy of space, and of walls as the creators of form, would be the constitutive principles of the 'Hollandse Zakelijkheid'.
A visit Berlage made to the U.S. in 1911 greatly affected his architecture. From then on the organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright would be a significant influence. Lectures he gave when returned to Europe would help to disseminate Wright's thoughts in Germany.
Considered the intermediary between the Traditionalists and the Modernists, Berlage's theories inspired most Dutch architectural groups of the 1920s, including the Traditionalists, the Amsterdam School, De Stijl and the New Objectivists.