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Rotterdam, the architectural city on the Maas River

6 min read

Rotterdam, also known as "Manhattan on the Meuse" due to its spectacular skyline, is not only an industrial city with the largest port in Europe, but also worth a visit, especially in terms of architecture. The Dutch Institute of Architecture was founded here, and there are plenty of modern and futuristic buildings to marvel at. Visitors can also look forward to inviting cafés, pretty boutiques and the special charm of the second largest city in the Netherlands.

 

#places: Rotterdam

Country: Netherlands
Population: approx. 651,631
Area: 324,1 km²
Famous landmark: Erasmus Bridge

ARCHITECTURE
 

After the Second World War, large parts of Rotterdam's established city quarters were destroyed. In some places, the historic building fabric has been preserved - for example, in the Delfshaven district, where pilgrims from England set out on their journey to North America in the 17th century. Here, the old merchants' houses were turned into an exclusive residential district. But all in all, the city fathers focused on innovation instead of weasel construction and used the post-war period as an architectural new beginning, so that today many buildings are real landmarks.

One of these is undoubtedly the architecture award-winning Maastoren, designed by the architectural firm of Odile Decq Benoit Cornette in collaboration with Dam & Partners. Completed in 2006, the 165-meter skyscraper sits right on the river and is in close proximity to another of the city's architectural landmarks, the Erasmus Bridge by Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos. Because of its 139-meter-high angled pylon, the link across the Meuse is also known as the Swan (de zwaan).
 

Address: Wilhelminakade 1, 3072 AP Rotterdam

Dutch architectural icon Rem Koolhaas has also set up a monument in the port city with his "Office for Metropolitan Architecture" (OMA). This vertical city, as Koolhaas himself calls the 44-story building, is simply called De Rotterdam. 162,000 square meters in six building sections, built in two groups of three on top of each other and slightly offset from each other, appear to the arriviste as a stack of building blocks.
 

Address: Wilhelminakade 139, 3072 AP Rotterdam

One of the city's newest architectural landmarks is the Schaudepot of the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, a project by the architectural firm MVRDV. As a shell, symbol of storage, the gleaming building was integrated into the cityscape and towers over the neighboring buildings at a height of almost 40 meters. Covering just over 6,600 square meters, the façade consists of 1,664 mostly mirrored glass panels that reflect the Rotterdam Museum Park and the surrounding area.


Address: Museumpark 24, 3015 CX Rotterdam

However, anyone visiting Rotterdam cannot miss the new market hall located in the city center. It was also designed by MVRDV - as a symbiosis of market stalls, residential units and parking facilities under one roof. The actual market is surrounded by a shell development in the form of an inverted horseshoe, housing apartments and stores. In between shopping and a snack at one of the many food stalls, be sure to look up at the sky, because on the ceiling is one of the largest works of art in the world: Hoorn des Overvloeds (Horn of Plenty), which covers an area of 11,000 square meters.
 

Address: Jan Scharpstraat 298, 3011 GZ Rotterdam

However, anyone visiting Rotterdam cannot miss the new market hall located in the city center. It was also designed by MVRDV - as a symbiosis of market stalls, residential units and parking facilities under one roof. The actual market is surrounded by a shell development in the form of an inverted horseshoe, housing apartments and stores. In between shopping and a snack at one of the many food stalls, be sure to look up at the sky, because on the ceiling is one of the largest works of art in the world: Hoorn des Overvloeds (Horn of Plenty), which covers an area of 11,000 square meters.


Address: Jan Scharpstraat 298, 3011 GZ Rotterdam

Those traveling by train arrive at another architectural highlight of the city, Rotterdam Centraal Central Station, built by Team CS (Benthem Crouwel Architects, Meyer en Van Schoten, West 8), which opened in 2015. A skilfully integrated example of modern comfort, symbiosis of different functions and a unique appearance in the city.


Address: Stationsplein 1, 3013 AJ Rotterdam

FUTURE ARCHITECTURE PROJECTS

MVRDV plans to install a neon pink staircase on the exterior of Rotterdam's Het Nieuwe Instituut, leading to an observation deck of the same color on the roof of the structure. The temporary installation, The Podium, will be part of Rotterdam's Architecture Month (June 2022).

Using computer models, the wall surfaces of Rotterdam's newest theater, Theater Zuidplein, were designed by Studio RAP to achieve an outstanding sound. The geometries are designed to optimize sound quality at all audience seats. The building is the brainchild of De Zwarte Hond architectural firm.

Artist Joep van Lieshout is designing a Brutus-inspired residential neighborhood with some cultural buildings to support a creative community. Called Brutus, the project is designed and financed by Van Lieshout and real estate developer RED Company for the M4H port area.

Five stacked cubes surrounded by red staircases make up the Harbour Experience Centre, designed by MVRDV for the Port of Rotterdam. It is scheduled to open in 2024 at the westernmost point of the port and is intended as an exhibition zone and visitor center.

© mvrdv.nl
© mvrdv.nl

OUTDOOR

Rotterdam's nightlife district is Witte de Withstraat, with countless bars, restaurants and clubs. One of the hippest addresses is Nieuw Rotterdams Café. You can spend the whole day here, as it not only serves breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, but also electrobeats, hiphop and R'n'B in the evenings.

Address: Witte de Withstraat 63, 3012 BN Rotterdam


Industrial charm right on the waterfront: For a meal, visitors to Rotterdam should head at least once to the Fenix Food Factory, also known as the alternative market hall. This is where the young, creative scene meets, enjoys beer and burgers on site. The location is within walking distance of the Wilhelminaplein stop, and is closed on Mondays.  

Address: Nico Koomanskade 1025, 3072 LM Rotterdam

A small selection of inviting cafés: The comfortably furnished Lilith offers rock'n'roll and delicious pancake variations (address: Nieuwe Binnenweg 125 H, 3014 GJ Rotterdam), Jordy's Bakery is the address for a delicious breakfast (at the Fenix Food Factory as well as at two other locations: Nieuwe Binnenweg 97A, 3014 GG Rotterdam / Benjamin Franklinstraat 503, 3029 AC Rotterdam), and those who like to be on board in a port city are well served by Vessel 11. On the ceiling of a historic ship, British cuisine is served here alongside coffee, tea and delicious chocolate lava cake (address: The Red Ship, Wijnhaven 101, 3011 WN Rotterdam).

Sonneveld Huis
Wohnzimmer im Sonneveld Huis
Sonneveld Huis
Kaminecke im Sonneveld Huis
Sonneveld Huis
Schlafzimmer im Sonneveld Huis

A good 30 years later, the Sonneveld Huis (Sonneveld House) emerged, an absolute must-see for architecture enthusiasts, as it is one of the best preserved buildings in the Nieuwe Bouwen (New Building) style. Designed in 1933 by Leen van der Vlugt as an ultra-modern home for the Sonneveld family, it is now an outstanding example of Dutch functionalism. The detailed interior, which also involved De Stijl artist Bart van der Leck, wows with some high-tech gadgets that were unusual for the time: a built-in couch that doubles as a bookshelf, closet, and sound system, a shower with 10 massage shower heads, and a whopping twelve telephones in the house - extremely unusual for the 1930s.


Address: Jongkindstraat 12, 3015 CG Rotterdam


For contrast, we recommend a walk across the Luchtsingel Bridge, whose construction breathed new life into the once-neglected Hopflein district. The yellow wooden bridge is about 390 meters long and attracts visitors at the western end with some bars and beer garden.


Address: Schiekade 189 Unit 303, 3013 BR Rotterdam

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