Monday 15 Nov 2010


Rotterdam's Black Pearl

Part of a program in Rotterdam to revitalise disadvantaged neighbourhoods, this house was sold to a private individual with the proviso that the property would be restored within a specified period and that it would be transformed into one home.

The renovation of the Rotterdam ‘metier house' was an experiment with spectacular results undertaken by Studio Rolf in partnership with Architects Zecc. The 100-year-old façade of the dwelling was painted black, and masonry, frames and windows were covered in shiny black oil creating a ‘shadow' of the original façade. However, the main feature is the placement of ‘transparent windows' piercing through the historical façade creating a relationship between the original building and the new interpretation.

Like the façade the interior retains traces of the past, which are still visible including the holes from removed floor joists, which reveal the original layout of the building. The new living spaces are connected by large stairwells and long sightlines. All redundant banisters, railings and doors have been removed to create a spectacular sense of space.

The house has been empty for almost 30 years, and yet now it is a unique home with a large workroom in the lower part of the house connected to a ‘bamboo garden'. Above are a series of semi-open living spaces; living, eating, cooking, study, sleeping and bathroom. The old roof tiles have been removed from the upper part of the building (and re-used in the garden) and a new greenhouse complete with a hot tub with stunning views has been installed.

Inside only five colours have been used throughout; black, white and three grayscales. An external sidewall is painted white all over. The traces of construction, including the old railings and pipes are all painted white.

The project was a collaboration between Zecc Architecten and Studio Rolf



Zecc Architecten

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