Rotterdam - City of Architecture

Rotterdam is a trailblazer where architecture is concerned. The city is internationally well-known for its daring modern buildings. The most celebrated champion of this city-wide trend is architect Rem Koolhaas and his OMA practice. His design of the Netherlands’ largest building, De Rotterdam, proved a sensation at home and abroad. De Rotterdam was completed in 2013 and is a complete town within the city: the three towers house luxury apartments, a hotel, offices and, at ground level, bars and restaurants which command wonderful views across the river Maas. It is a powerful statement about Rotterdam, confirming that it continues to be a vibrant, growing metropolis.

The one and only Markthal

Two other recent architectural highpoints, the Markthal and the new Rotterdam Central railway station can be found on the other side of the river Maas. The Markthal has what for the Netherlands is a unique mix of homes, a daily market and restaurants and bars: on the market floor, there are 100 high-end stalls selling fresh produce, while the enormous arch covering the market houses luxury apartments. The inside of the arch is decorated with the mural, Horn of Plenty, by Arno Coenen. Its immense size, 11,000 square metres, makes it the Netherlands’ largest work of art and has already led to its being dubbed Rotterdam’s Sistine Chapel.

Rotterdam Central

Rotterdam’s new main railway station, Rotterdam Central, can rightly be called the city’s visiting card. The entrance concourse is spacious and has a façade completely made of glass which provides lots of light. The concourse and the 30-metre-wide transit area for passengers ensure visitors experience a convenient and modern gateway to the city. The stainless-steel roof is also a striking sight. The new building, though, also has an eye for the past. The two sculptures which decorated the wings of the old station now mark either end of the cycle tunnel under the new Rotterdam Central. The old station’s name sign with its characteristic lettering has also been given a place and can now be seen on the south side of the new building.

World heritage

Rotterdam has a lot to offer besides its ultra-modern architecture. Outstanding pre-war buildings include the City Hall, Het Witte Huis (The White House - Europe’s first ‘skyscraper’), the Saint Lawrence church and the 17th-century Schielandshuis building, while innovative 20th-century architecture is represented by works such as the Van Nelle Factory, the famous cube houses by Piet Blom, the Euromast observation tower and the Erasmus Bridge by Ben van Berkel. The New Orleans and the Maastoren skyscrapers were built in the 21st century. They are respectively the tallest apartment block and tallest office block in the Netherlands.

The Van Nelle Factory, by the architects Brinkman and Van der Vlugt, is a textbook example of the functionalist ‘Nieuwe Bouwen’ (New Construction) style and was awarded a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014.

International interest

Rotterdam’s diverse architectural trends and developments are regularly reported in the international media. The New York Times put the city in tenth place on its 2014 ‘52 Places to Go’ list, citing Rotterdam’s “first class architecture”. The Rough Guide also had architecture in mind when it advised its readers to visit Rotterdam.

Information showing the latest architectural developments and future construction projects can be found at the Rotterdam Info Coolsingel city promotion centre.