Rotterdam heads to market

Friday 03 Oct 2014

Rotterdam’s ground breaking Markthal building marries an arched apartment building over a covered city market

Located at the historic heart of the Dutch city of Rotterdam, the MVRDV designed Markthal is a unique hybrid of market hall with overarching housing. Its twin goals were to provide the already thriving open air market on Binnenrotte with a covered market space and bring new residents to the ‘Laurenskwartier’ (Laurens quarter) neighbourhood of east Rotterdam to help regenerate the urban environment.

Developers Provost in conjunction with leading architectural firm MVRDV won a city of Rotterdam design competition for Markthal and construction started in 2009. It did not prove straightforward. The huge scale of the project, shallow ground water, unstable and wet sub-soil, the city centre location along with the archaeological significance of being above Rotterdam’s first settlement all represented huge challenges.

The result of their endeavours is striking – a highly public, open ended, arched building reminiscent of the hull of an up-turned Dutch barge. At each end a transparent glass cable net façade (the largest in Europe) allows the market space to remain as open as possible, highly visible and engaging and yet offering maximum weather protection. Finished in grey natural stone, the same as on the pavements outside, the emphasis of Markthal is very much on the interior.

Horn of Plenty
The interior of the arch is covered by the gigantic art piece called Horn of Plenty, a vibrant, multi-coloured creation by Rotterdam artists Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam that references the Dutch Golden Age still-lives, the Greek myth of Cornucopia and the historical tradition of arch decoration. The art piece depicts a photographic 3D illusion of fresh products such as fruit, fish, bread, flowers and also the tower of adjacent ‘Laurenskerk’ (Laurens church). It is one of the largest art pieces in the Netherlands at 11,000 sq m.

Markthal is a building without a ‘rear’ - all sides of the building are accessible or shop windows. The supply for the hall, shops and restaurants is therefore located underground. The basement is designed to receive goods deliveries by van where freight elevators reach the market hall keeping early hours disruption to a minimum. The basement supermarkets and grocers are serviced through an underground tunnel leading to hidden elevators at Binnenrotte Square meaning larger lorries can operate at a distance from the hall. Inhabitants have storage rooms and shared bicycle rooms in the basement.

Serviced by the Blaak train station and an interchange for trams and buses, Markthal has 1200 underground parking bays for both residents and visitors as well as 800 bicycle parking bays.

The horse shoe shaped arch of Markthal consists of housing from the third to the eleventh floor. Each apartment has an outside terrace and the 24 penthouses on the top floor have – thanks to the arch shape – a wide roof terrace.

Half the apartments have internal, triple-glazed windows looking into the market. Layouts vary from open loft apartments to duplex with multiple bedrooms and are between 80 and 300 sq m. The penthouses have their entrances on the tenth floor and inside stairs and room for an elevator to the eleventh floor. In this way the arch of Markthal is uninterrupted by elevator boxes on the roof.

Markthal received a BREEAM Very Good certificate. Natural ventilation from either façade provides fresh air and vents through shafts in the roof. Hot and cold air exchangers maintain optimal environments with minimal energy use. Markthal is also connected to the subterranean city thermal storage system and provides heat and cool air for a number of adjacent buildings. Tenants of Markthal have signed up to a ‘Green Lease Agreement’ covering water, energy, waste and use of healthy construction material. Urban wildlife has been encouraged through bat stays and nests for swifts.

Event: On October 4, 2104 ‘Peeking at the Neighbours’ event will take place at Markthal Rotterdam. Visitors will have the chance to take a look at one of the apartments and join a mini-festival at the just opened market.

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