Posts tagged with "Rotterdam":

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An OMA development threatens a landmark of Dutch urban design

Shopping these days is often done online, making street-level urban and suburban commercial retail spaces eerily vacant, but this was not always the case. Consider Rotterdam's Lijnbaan. The Lijnbaan, a large-scale development for Rotterdam proposed by Dutch architect Jo van den Broek, was made of housing and commercial buildings. Around 100 shops were built in two phases: the north part was completed in the 1950s, which is now preserved as a rijksmonument (a national heritage site), and the southern arm was done the 1960s and was open to change. Both arms received much publicity for their pedestrian orientation. This urban complex arose on the ruins of a Rotterdam that was bombed on May 14, 1940, by Hitler’s Luftwaffe. Cornelis Van Traa designed the urban plan for the center of the city and instead of following the historic forerunners of the street system, created a new system, precisely for a changed society. The freshly conceived apartment buildings’ designs were headed by Hugh Maaskant and his associates and, germane for our subject, the handsome "new objectivity" Lijnbaan shops along a mostly “L-Shaped” street system were credited to the architectural firm Van den Broek and Bakema. The main architects were Jaap Bakema and Frans van Gool. The former is the subject of a new book, Dirk Van Den Heuvel’s Jaap Bakema and the Open Society. Bakema gained his reputation for his participation in Team 10 and his large-scale building production. Van Gool designed but also oversaw construction and made stunning perspectives of the shops. However, the authorship of the Lijnbaan quarters is somewhat blurred, since responsibilities were shared by the architects’ offices and city officials, as occurs frequently in many urban projects. Mostly all the shops, placed in double rows in the 18-meter-wide plan, were built of reinforced concrete frameworks with prefab elements and brick walls filled in. Iconic canopies were made of steel and wood; they protected and ran along most of the shop rows. Also, there were seven lines of canopies that stretched across the landscaped areas that separated the shop rows. These in-between areas were furnished with many attractions; landscaped zones with flowers and trees were accompanied by kiosks and benches. Delightful for strollers, they now suffer from wear. While the southern arm of the complex is in turmoil, the northern part is being restored by Robert Wankel of Mei Architects. Most notable is their restoration of the Lijnbaan 77 on the corner of the Aert van Nesstraat. Working under the auspices of an area regulation pact, “Lijnbaanregeerakkoord,” Mei Architects have given the frayed parts of the canopies sensitively treated materials in accord with the preexisting concrete and wood. Even more recent is the work of Kees Kaan who has designed the Schaap en Citroen jewelers and fashion retailer COS shop on the corner of Karel Doormanstraat 278. Formerly Martin’s Tearoom, its 3-story corner block is incompatible with other 2-story Lijnbaan shops. Yet, it is tame in comparison with the towering blocks proposed nearby. The southern arm of the Lijnbaan, which is not eligible for 50-year preservation status, is being threatened by moneyed interests and a high powered designer, Rem Koolhaas, and his firm, OMA. Commerce is vital, but when it drowns out human values it needs to be upended. Multi Nederland is the developer and the "star" architect is Rem Koolhaas—former supporter of the social values of shopping and the preservation of historical modern buildings. Developer and architect have bowed to the expedient forces and designed an ugly tower complex (maybe they think it's delirious). Koolhaas and Reinier de Graaf, OMA's partner in charge, ignore the unified low-rise nature of the Lijnbaan shops. It is all very cynical as Dirk van den Heuvel, says—the city needs the money and automatically forgets the prize-making history of the Lijnbaan, the jewel of postwar Rotterdam’s modernist ideals. As the great urban historian, Lewis Mumford, pointed out, the shopping experience for pedestrians is of great importance. The anti-preservation forces even include Wessel de Jonge, co-founder of the Docomomo organization which purports to preserve endangered modern architecture. Demolition work has already begun on badly maintained shops, so the tragic end may be near.
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MVRDV’s The Stairs celebrates the 75 year anniversary of post-war reconstruction in Rotterdam

Yesterday Ahmed Aboutaleb, the Mayor of Rotterdam, opened MVRDV's The Stairs project to the public in commemoration of the 75 year anniversary of the reconstruction of Rotterdam after World War II. The Dutch firm, who are from Rotterdam themselves, placed 180 steps traveling up from just outside Rotterdam's railway station to the rooftop of the Groot Handelsgebouw—one of the city's first post-war buildings and cherished landmark. On its inauguration, the installation (free to the public) attracted some 7,850 stair-faring visitors and will stay open until June 12. Coinciding with the project, a month of activities will include film screenings, debates, and art events at the Kriterion Cinema which will reopen especially for the event. Rising some 95 feet, the structure—comprised almost entirely from scaffolding assembled by Dutch company Steigers—includes a viewing platform at the top where people can take in expansive and often unseen views of Rotterdam. Responding to the impressive angular facade of Rotterdam Central Station, the scaffolding also explicitly references the city's reconstruction through material and its attachment to a post-war icon. “The stairs are a symbolic first step towards a better use of our city’s second layer, and ideally would be replaced with a set of escalators in the next step,” said MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas in a press release. “It is, in this way, a second reconstruction, a 'Tweederopbouw,' that gives access to, activates and connects the rooftops of Rotterdam.” For climbers in need of refueling and for those who just want to watch others struggle, The Lucht Cafe will provide refreshments while also offering an exhibition showcasing the future of the city. The exhibit will look at how rooftops interact with the cityscape and how new public spaces can establish connections between them. “With this installation and in our exhibition we show what this city could look like if we do that in many places, engaging a series of our existing buildings and giving access to their roofs, to create a new, much more interactive, three dimensional and denser urban topography for the next city generation,” added Maas.
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Inside the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam

The two-story concrete Fenixloods II, a former coffee warehouse for Rotterdam’s port, boasts a sign asking “What’s Next?” at the upper level entrance to announce the 2016 International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) that runs April 23 to July 10. Inside, a Tyvek curtain is printed with introductory text and visitors can be immersed in a virtual reality film, an example of new technologies that are creating "mixed"—as opposed to fully virtual—reality (MR). A flat screen projects movies—created by the designers of IABR with Rnul Interactive—that show 10-year-olds who pause in their activities to say, “welcome.” Just a few steps into it, this seems to be a different kind of show. The exhibitions focus on what we can develop in the future: not just the “New Economy” but the “Next Economy,” both in terms of policies that direct design and design that directs policy in urban areas. Featuring a selection of over sixty projects on the themes of the healthy city, inclusive city, productive city, and sustainable city, the exhibition is curated by Maarten Hajer with exhibition design by Michiel van Iersel, the Belgium architecture firm 51N4E, and Dutch graphic designers 75B. It encompasses not only the call for projects (23 selected) but also country-focused guest-curated sections from China and South Africa. Those are joined by an additional group of ateliers from Holland, Belgium, and Albania that produced over the past year design solutions for sustainable and productive cities. Many projects combine DIY tactical urbanism strategies such as the Hackable Cityplot, in which designers and residents are revitalizing a former industrial area in Amsterdam with self-built housing and shared infrastructures. Others focus on issues of local value-added economies in contrast to the extractive and more abusive ones. The opening weekend included lectures and discussions with a welcome from Rotterdam’s Labour Party mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb. He spoke of the need for a “peaceful city” and articulated new ways of community-based planning in Rotterdam where the citizens are making their own neighborhood plan—something not unlike New York’s 197a plans. Curator Hajer animatedly moderated sessions on the productive city with Rotterdam and South African-based teams showing projects such as IShack, which is a solar power-based community electricity system in Stellenbosch Cape Town, and new manufacturing initiatives for Rotterdam The Hague region. The vast exhibition in the 2,600-square-meter-space is designed to mimic the public realm: there are no barriers between sections, enabling open views from one end of the warehouse to the other. This openness is punctuated by plywood constructions forming rooms for talks and hands-on work sessions. Large composite-board tables are the display surfaces for most projects' models and materials. Some tables, such as the one for the Living Necropolis, invite you to lie down to watch a video of the informal houses developed between cemeteries in Manila. Other displays include couches for watching films or settings for interaction. While many projects are regional (due to funding sources and other factors) numerous international projects are displayed. (This includes two from the U.S.) This variety of work demonstrates the potential for essential collaboration among designers, governments, and residents. While the pondering What’s Next? is intriguing, these projects now underway can serve as future models. These range from the mega-scale (regional sustainable energy infrastructures in the Netherlands, ways to house refugees in Europe) to the smallest-scaled item (Parallel Lab's canvas stool that turns into a backpack for use by merchants in the in-between spaces of Hong Kong). Therein lies the value of a show like this: ideas abound, but as a painted wall graphic of William Gibson’s prophesy attests: “The Future is Already Here.”
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A modular prototype that transforms any space into an apartment

Boiled down to the basics, a dwelling requires facilities for cooking, washing, and sleeping. Rotterdam-based architecture firm Kraaijvanger appears to be sticking closely to that margin with this prototype. Their creation, De Hub, is a modular unit that can be added to empty apartments to provide these basic functions. Easy to assemble and dismantle, the minimalist De Hub contains a kitchen, a bathroom, and a toilet, plus a heating unit, a sound system, and an internet connection. The first Hub, installed in Rotterdam, has so far been a success. Constructed using blockboard and solid-core board, and secured with Lamello hardware, the Hub sources utilities like water and electricity through piping and wiring in the floor below. De Hub originated as the winning submission to a local Rotterdam housing association's “how will we live in the future?” competition.   In one possible scheme for these units, the firm may encourage clients to rent modules instead of purchasing them outright. This essentially lets users borrow the necessities of dwelling without buying an actual home. The modules can subsequently be restored and made ready for reuse elsewhere. Supplementary hubs, such as the "Bedhub," can fill additional space. Kraaijvanger is also considering designing other Hubs, including a solar energy module and a hub for growing vegetables. This prototype in Rotterdam remains to be the only unit in use; no others have been sold and no pricing scheme is in place. Kraaijvanger aims to improve their modular product before putting it on the market in the Netherlands.
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OMA’s stacked Timmerhuis project in Rotterdam edges closer to its December opening

OMA's Timmerhuis project for Rotterdam, a gleaming stack of municipal offices, will open to the public on December 11, 2015. The mixed-use building will primarily house office space taking up 262,000 square feet with residential, parking, gallery, and retail spaces occupying the rest of the building. The design for Dutch developers Ontwikkelingsbedrijf was lead by OMA partner Reinier de Graaf and associates Alex de Jong and Katrien van Dijk and will be only a stone's throw away from the firm's other, already built project in the city—the towering De Rotterdam. A modular aesthetic is created via the stratified composition of repeated units stepped back from the street and would be reminiscent to a game of architectural Tetris if it weren't for the building's glass facade that makes use of high-tech,translucent energy-efficient insulation. Adaptability was a key component to the project's program, Rem Koolhaas said in a statement. "Units can be added or even dismounted from the structure as demands on the building change over time, and can adapt to either office space or residential parameters as desired." OMA also wanted to create the possibility of having an apartment with a garden in the city center, so green terraces are featured on higher levels while overhanging modules create open spaces at street level, adding a private/public threshold between the dwellings at the city. According to Koolhaas, the design brief required Timmerhuis to be "the most sustainable building in the Netherlands." OMA achieved this via the buildings flexible program and thanks to two large atriums which essentially act as the "building's lungs." These lungs are integrated into a climate control system that retains the summer heat, releasing it in the winter. Likewise, cold air from the winter is stored to be released in the summer. "Rather than being yet another statement in Rotterdam's crowded history of revisionist planning and cacophony of architectural styles, the ambiguous mass of the Timmerhuis tries to mediate between the existing buildings surrounding it," Koolhaas said. "The axis between the existing town hall and the post office coincides with the axis of symmetry of the Timmerhuis , and the street between these two buildings continues into a passageway to the Haagseveer," he continued. "The Timmerhuis integrates with the neighbouring Stadtimmerhuis by maintaining the same floor heights, while the plinth height of 20m conforms to the character of the surrounding Laurenskwartier."  
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MVRDV donates a massive collection of its early archives to Rotterdam’s Het Nieuwe Instituut

Het Nieuwe Instituut (HNI) is an arts institute for exhibitions, lectures, and research on architecture-and-design-based disciplines in Rotterdam. The institute's Dutch compatriots MVRDV have just signed a contract which will see the practices early work be uploaded to a new digital archive. The collection will feature MVRDV's work from 1993–2008 and both parties have agreed for the online database to be updated in the future. HNI also aims to make the collection open to the public at a later, yet-to-be-decided date. To quantify the scale of the database, it will boast 400 MVRDV projects, stored in eight terabytes. The archive hopes to illustrate the firm's architectural development over time. "We have discussed various possibilities with museums around the world, and we will also give parts of the archive to other collections," Jacob van Rijs, architect and co-founder of MVRDV, said in a statement. "But because our archive is digital, there is an opportunity to show every project book we’ve ever created at HNI. That will be a treasure trove for researchers." Some of the projects featured will include: Villa VPRO, the Silodam and the Markthal Rotterdam, as well as more theoretical projects based on data analysis, an early fascination of MVRDV: Meta City Datatown, Pig City, and 3D City Cube.
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West 8 to remake a boulevard in Rotterdam into a pedestrian and cyclist–oriented thoroughfare

This month, Adriaan Visser of Rotterdam's city council and Adriaan Geuze, principal of landscape architecture firm West 8, unveiled a new plan for the municipality's 0.6 mile long Coolsingel. The streetscape aims to restore the allure of the 19th century boulevard which once defined the area. Boasting a new green esplanade with natural stone paving, the street will have a two-way bike path that is expected to liven up the space which is currently dominated by cars. Officials reiterated that West 8 in tandem with local authorities hope to make the boulevard into a place that is comfortable for both pedestrians and cyclists. They added at one day Coolsingel could become the new heart of downtown Rotterdam. West 8 described its proposal as a place for "all seasons." Utilizing a pre-existing green space, the Rotterdam- and New York–based firm calls for an environment that will be "framed by trees, terraces and pleasant seating areas." Changes to the Coolsingel are part of a wider scheme called the Binnenstad als City Lounge program (literally, the City Center as a City Lounge) that intends to kick-start developments in the city to make it "more lively and attractive." In what is becoming quite a trend, streetscape projects that aim to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists are cropping up more and more as architects and cities notice the importance of place making. Recently, six United States–based placemaking organizations were awarded $3 million each to develop their respective cities. Other pedestrian-first projects of note include Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)'s Superkilen, which added a splash of color to Copenhagen's streets with its street-turned-park-turned-museum. Like Rotterdam, Mexico City is also set for a environmental injection as Fernando Romero, principal at FR-EE, just revealed plans earlier this summer for a green street in the capital city's Avenida Chapultepec.
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After nine years, MVRDV reclaims architecture’s coveted ArchiCup, beating Mecanoo, West 8, OMA, and others an the annual soccer matchup

After a seemingly never ending nine-year wait, Dutch architecture firm MVRDV finally reclaimed the ArchiCup in Rotterdam after a contentious soccer matchup. https://vimeo.com/139137485 Organized by GROUPA and Bekkering Adams Architects the competition was hosted at the Henegouwerplein in Rotterdam. Despite the questionable playing surface, MVRDV reigned victorious over bitter rivals Power House Company causing scenes of jubilation as they launched their captain into the air. Other teams included Broek Bakema, De Zwarte Hond, Hoogstad, Groosman, KCAP, Mecanoo, Nov '82, OMA, West 8, ZUS and RAVB.
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Rotterdam considers piloting environmentally-friendly roads made from recycled plastic bottles

Always an early adopter of innovative sustainability methods, the city of Rotterdam is considering piloting roads fabricated from recycled plastic. The creators of PlasticRoad wooed the city council with their proposal of an all-plastic road that is quicker to lay and requires less maintenance than asphalt. Construction firm VolkerWessels also claims that the material can withstand greater temperature extremes—from -40 to 176 fahrenheit—can be laid in weeks rather than months, and lasts three times as long. The Netherlands-headquartered conglomerate points out that asphalt generates 3.2 billion pounds of carbon emissions globally on an annual basis, accounting for two percent of all road transportation emissions. Lighter roads that exert less pressure on the ground are a godsend for the low-lying Netherlands, one eighth of which is already submerged below sea level. The hollow design of PlasticRoads makes it easy to install cables and utility pipelines and even channel rainwater. Sections of road can be prefabricated in a factory, reducing on-site construction and ensuing congestion caused by roadworks. “As far as I know we’re the first in the world [to try this],” Rolf Mars, director of VolkerWessels’ roads subdivision, KWS Infra, told The Guardian. “It’s still an idea on paper at the moment; the next stage is to build it and test it in a laboratory to make sure it’s safe in wet and slippery conditions and so on. We’re looking for partners who want to collaborate on a pilot – as well as manufacturers in the plastics industry. We’re thinking of the recycling sector, universities and other knowledge institutions.” Although still at the conception stage, VolkerWessels hopes to lay the first fully recycled thoroughfare within the next three years, and the city of Rotterdam is raring to host the pilot test. “We’re very positive towards developments around PlasticRoad,” said Jaap Peters from the city council engineering bureau. “Rotterdam is a city that is open to experiments and innovative adaptations in practice. We have a ‘street lab’ available where innovations like this can be tested.” The initiative should perhaps be most lauded for its potentially massive-scale, industrial use of waste materials. And while plastic bottles are already widely recycled and repurposed into garden furniture, compost bins, and more plastic bottles, the questions becomes: can used up PlasticRoads be recycled?
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Crowdsourced Infrastructure: Dutch Architects ZUS Complete A Self-Initiated Footbridge

Have you ever wanted to go to the park but had a highway or rail yard in your way? Ever feel like the best parts of your city are disconnected? Do what Rotterdam- and New York–based designers Zones Urbaines Sensibles (ZUS) did. They wanted to connect parts of Rotterdam, so they took matters into their own hands and put together a crowdfunding initiative to connect a series of three districts through public infrastructure. Luchtsingel, a 1300-foot-long bridge received support from some 5,000 people and finally opened last week. The saga started in 2011 when the city cancelled the development of an office building in Rotterdam Central District. ZUS took over what is known as the Schieblock, and turned it into a city laboratory. The space acts as an incubator for young entrepreneurs and includes a ground-floor store, bar, culinary workshop, information center, and the Dakakker, Europe’s first urban farming roof. When the Delftsehof nightlife area and two parks opened, Pompenburg Park, and the Hofplein Station Roof Park, the districts needed to be connected. As part of the 2012 Architecture Biënnale Rotterdam (IABR), co-curated by ZUS, the area was named “Test Site Rotterdam,” and included 18 interventions connected by the Luchtsingel. The crowd-funding project “I Make Rotterdam” sold over 8,000 boards inscribed with the names of those who donated, for just €25 each. Not all 18 proposals were but the Luchtsingel has now happened. The project is a unifying factor in the resurgence of Rotterdam as a sustainable and pedestrian-friendly urban area, and uses “the city's evolutionary character and existing forms as a starting point. Therefore, we have developed new instruments for design, financing, and planning" to make "a new three-dimensional cityscape," according to ZUS founders Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman.  
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Watch OMA partner Ellen van Loon and MAB Development discuss the de Rotterdam tower

Last September, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat invited me to serve as the special media correspondent for its Shanghai symposium, entitled Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism. I conducted video interviews with dozens of architects, developers, building managers, and others on topics relevant to tall building design and sustainable urbanism. Among the many designers, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed were Jos Melchers of MAB Development & OMA partner Ellen van Loon. We discussed the design of De Rotterdam, an innovative mixed-use development that won CTBUH's 2014 Best Tall Building award for Europe. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OygY60WSibU De Rotterdam's design resembles several skyscrapers stacked closely together, with bridges and protrusions in the facade connecting them into a single, flowing mass. "What you do in a low-rise city, where buildings are very close to each other with different functions, is now basically translated into a high-rise building," said van Loon. "I think what is interesting for me about this building is that tenants see each other on different heights... so not only the physical connections, but the view connections create a community in that building." Van Loon said it was a challenge to temper the community-building aspect of the building's connections with their potential to create confusion in the program or an overwhelming presence on the skyline. The result was the largest building in the Netherlands, but one that developer Jos Melchers said still respects the site. Getting tenants on board was another challenge at first, he said, but now the unusual layout is "becoming part of the city." "You feel that you can make a really mixed-use, multifunctional building," Melchers said. "The tenant has to believe in the concept of a vertical city. Of course tenants want to have their own block, their own building."
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MVRDV’s enormous arched food hall and housing complex opens in Rotterdam

When the plan for Markthal Rotterdam first appeared, it seemed like one of those interesting, but never going to actually happen type of projects. There was no way that MVRDV’s sprawling food hall set underneath a 130-foot-tall arching roof that itself contains 228 apartments would ever be realized. Well, it turns out there was a way, and Rotterdam figured it out. This week, the Netherland’s Queen Máxima opened the market, which is expected to attract between 4.5 and 7 million visitors every year. The interior space is defined by a nearly 12,000-square-foot mural called “Cornucopia” that, as you may have guessed, shows produce and the like. “In order to achieve the required sharpness, the image was rendered by Pixar software,” explained Rotterdam Partners in a statement. “It was printed onto perforated aluminum panels, then attached to acoustic panels for noise control. The print resolution of the art work is comparable to a glossy magazine.” That mural is bookended by massive, arching-glazed cable net facades that create the effect of transparency throughout the structure. To contrast with the market's colorful interior, MVRDV used grey natural stone to clad the structure and define the surrounding public space.