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  • 7/26/2019 Markt mashup



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    VEGETAVAULTDespite its gutsiness, MVRDVnew market hall is emblematic o

    Rotterdams inability to conceivand sustain a sense of urban life

  • 7/26/2019 Markt mashup





    You cant use the word provocative after

    9/11, reckons Winy Maas. It could suggest

    architecture as incitement to violence ordiscord. But in a positive sense, he accepts

    that MVRDVs covered market for Rotterdam

    is exactly that: a provocation about scale,

    about contextuality, about food culture

    and how we live.

    It is also about bringing vitality back to

    central Rotterdam a painfully slow process

    that must address the blitz of May 1940 that

    saw only 12 city-centre buildings survive

    thesubsequent firestorm, clearances and

    thezoning of the post-war rebuilding that

    helped depopulate the inner city.

    Visit today and Rotterdam, a municipality

    with a population of 618,000 is still curiously

    quiet, especially after dark. Lamps glowinapartment windows and some restaurants

    are busy but the streets are empty. Life has

    been dispersed and what remains is in what

    Maas calls a city of spots; areas such as

    the pre-war survivors Witte de Withstraat

    and Delfshaven where something of the

    citys earlier vigour survives if muted.

    Some locals put it down to Rotterdams

    working-class, nose-to-the-grindstone culture

    (Rotterdammers, it is said, buy their shirts

    with the sleeves already rolled up).

    MVRDV has just created a new spot with

    its 175 million Markthal. It faces an open

    space the size of Beijings Tiananmen Square

    between Blaak and Binnenrotte that isoccupied only twice a week by a large outdoor

    market of about 450 stalls. Stallholders are

    usually itinerant, travelling from town to town

    for market days. The rest of the week it lies

    empty, a great north-south gash in the city

    like a landing strip separating the pound-shop

    infested dog-end of the shopping district from

    the finer streets around Pannekoekstraat.

    The latter was rebuilt shortly after the war in

    a humane brick Modernism along the pre-war

    street pattern another successful patch of

    city life, if under-scaled, and a testament to

    what might have been but for a change of tack

    and the tabula rasa planning that followed.

    Once the heart of the historic city, theRotte river ran here, culverted in the 19th

    century and later filled by a north-south

    railway viaduct, but the line too has since

    been buried and the viaduct demolished in the

    name of urban design. The post-war buildings

    that previously backed onto the line then

    backed onto the open space and were later

    demolished. The late medieval Laurenskerk,

    a rare blitz survivor just to the north,

    1. (Previous spreanew market is houa cavernous vaultwith zingy supergrfrescoes of fresh 2. The building tera vast market squ3. Visitors throng stalls and cafs, gthe huge space a csense of animatio

    Markthal,Rotterdam,The Netherlands,MVRDV


    site plan

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    however, presents its apse for inspection.

    To the south is the now subterranean Blaak

    station and the quarters around Oude Haven

    (the old harbour) and neighbouring Wijnhaven

    that after the decline of port-related industry

    on this stretch of the waterfront sat mostlyidle for many decades.

    The Markthal is one of many projects that

    have from the mid-80s onwards attempted to

    fill this yawning urban gap. In the first month

    since it opened in October, it had attracted

    a million curious visitors an astonishing

    number in a country of 16 million all eager

    to see a 40m-high vault entirely lined with a

    vegetal mural and set within a thickly layered

    crust of 228 apartments clad externally in

    Chinese granite. Some 12,000 people an hour

    can pass through at weekends.

    The project, for Dutch developer Provast,

    sprang out of the rumour that EU regulations

    were about to ban outdoor markets fromselling hygiene-sensitive foods. This never

    happened but the impetus to build survived

    the severe post-2008 downturn in the Dutch

    economy and after 10 years (five under

    construction) it has arrived, a stonking

    instant icon whose original purpose had

    evaporated. Part of its attraction to visitors

    lies in the obstreperous design, part in the

    fact that the covered market was never a

    Dutch building te Maas doesnt know why.

    He bridles a little at the description of the

    building as a triumphal arch. The form was

    arrived at after a study of mainland Europes

    covered food markets especially those of

    Spain and France, as well aspects of the morelifestyle orientated markets of Copenhagen

    and Stockholm. EMBTs rightly celebrated

    Santa Caterina market of 2005 in Barcelona

    (AR November 2005) with its brilliantly

    coloured waveform roof was a direct

    inspiration. Maas doodles sketches showing

    the evolution of his response to a brief that

    demanded a market hall and two residential

    blocks. Initially it was conceived of as a

    pitched-roof market form flanked by two

    parallel slabs of apartments. Market use

    and residential then fused into one s

    It morphed into an inhabited square

    then a portal frame then a flattened

    arch (which could be constructed in

    in-situ concrete rather than steel) w

    feet were flared out to accommodatdevelopers desire for additional floo

    in the parallel rows of restaurants an

    that flank the market hall proper. Th

    supergraphics of giant fruit and vege

    have been likened to poppy Sistine C

    style frescoes but Maas prefers to na

    Brunelleschis San Lorenzo for the a

    his vault whose glazed ends are an el

    executed cable-net that can flex up t

    to accommodate wind loads.

    The Markthal apartments are bas

    single aspect but each has internal w

    that peer down onto the shoppers be

    These inclined windows decrease in

    until they appear as one metre squarpanels set in the floors small light-

    for the penthouse apartments. Bene

    street level is a supermarket anchor

    cool storage facilities for the stands

    Markthal and three layers of parking

    the largest facility in the city.

    Maas makes free with his green p

    sketching another line of shapes th

    the architectural menagerie that Ro

    The digital supergraphicsof giant fruit and vegetableshave been likened to poppySistine Chapel-style frescoes

    but Maas prefers to namecheckBrunelleschis San Lorenzofor the arch of his vault whoseglazed ends are an elegantlyexecuted cable-net


  • 7/26/2019 Markt mashup



  • 7/26/2019 Markt mashup



  • 7/26/2019 Markt mashup



    4. (Previous spread)resembling a gigantictriumphal arch, the glazedends of the market hallare enclosed by complexcable net structuresthat can flex 700mm inresponse to wind loads

    Markthal,Rotterdam,The NetherlMVRDV

    ground floor plan

    first floor plan

    section AA

    B B

    1 entrance to Markthal

    2 market stalls3 shops and restaurants4 entrance to apartments5 garage access6 apartment7 roof terrace8 penthouse9 patio with market view









    4 4



    0 20m

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    section BB

    eleventh floor plan

    tenth floor plan











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  • 7/26/2019 Markt mashup



    has assembled in recent decades in its bid

    to create a densified somewhere out of a

    blitzed nowhere: OMAs De Rotterdam on

    the south side of the river, the inverted Y

    of the Van Berkel & Bos Erasmus Bridge,

    the Markthal arch and what appears to bethe sawtooth roofline of Piet Bloms 1984

    Cube Houses across the square from the

    Markthal where the apartments cubes

    are balanced on their corners.

    Can such a series of discrete objects make

    a city? I still believe that is possible if they

    are close together. It is a very strange city

    and wouldnt work everywhere but yes.

    It is contextual in another way. In Rotterdam

    you can only connect through diversity.

    The neighbouring buildings of the

    Laurenskwartier are equally doing their

    own crazy thing from Piet Bloms cubes

    andwitchs hat apartment tower to Group

    Asfractured facade office block at Blaak 8and Hans Kollhoffs pedimented Statendam

    apartments. Immediately to the south of the

    Markthal is Kees Christiaanses Jenga office

    stack (Blaak 31), an HQ for law firm Loyens

    & Loeff. Another wayward pile is planned

    for the markets northern flank. Its a pigs

    ear of planning as novelty form making.

    Maas defends the monumentality of

    theMarkthals pumped up architecture

    asanintriguing contradiction. He argues

    thatmassing the components of the brief

    inalarge-scale building has had a multiplier

    effect, with the plaza in front having a nicer

    atmosphere, and more shoppers now in

    theoutdoor market, as well as in the coveredhall. Thats an optimistic perspective but

    certainly the additional big buildings and

    thelandscaping and tree-planting planned

    forthe Binnenrotte frontage this March can

    only help begin if not entirely successfully

    to contain its brutal enormity.

    For Maas, his building does exactly

    whatitsays on the tin communicating its

    functions directly to a viewer who doesnt

    need to be a sophisticate to understand it.

    It is unashamedly populist and aims to

    improve Rotterdams cheap food culture

    without becoming decadent or elitist.

    A minority of the stallholders have come

    inside where the rents are similar to thosefor the pitches outdoors, but the stallholder

    must be open seven days a week. Clubbing

    outlets together in this way, suggests Maas,

    will help small businesses survive in the

    face of the retail giants.

    Theres an expectation here that a city

    with great market halls will have a great

    food culture and it seems to apply whether

    looking at Madrid, Melbourne or Montreal.

    5. (Previous spread)the full Dali-esque gloryof the vegetal vault6. The high-end stalls area sedate affair comparedwith the rough and readycharm of a normal market7. View from one of theflats in the vault structure8. Mid-level walkwayoverlooking the market


    Markthal,Rotterdam,The NetherlMVRDV



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    The reality can be entirely otherwise

    though; Newcastles handsome Grainger

    Market or the Kirkgate covered market

    in Leeds (Europes largest), do not seem to be

    noticeably improving their host communities

    cuisine, for all their authenticity.The Markthal doesnt, however, even feel

    like a market despite Maass claim that some

    20 per cent of stallholders are collectives

    orfamily businesses. It is essentially a food

    court. A great many of the stalls are places to

    eat sushi, waffles, tapas, fresh juices while

    the majority of others sell luxury goods such

    as chocolates, nuts and European charcuterie.

    Only one greengrocer was spotted on my

    visit and that the te where the fruit looks

    hand polished. A few chain stores have

    crept in which Maas accepts as the price for

    reducing the developers risk in this untested

    (in a Dutch context) concept.

    Admittedly, this trend is also true ofestablished markets such as Barcelonas

    tourist-infested La Boqueria and the just

    refurbished central market of Florence

    each of which, like the Markthal, has a

    cooking school. And, increasingly Londons

    Borough market is similarly more about

    destination shopping and dining. But it is still

    hard to see how the Markthal significantly

    adds to Rotterdams food culture beyond

    avery visible statement of investment in the

    idea of it. Maybe, says Maas, the dramatic

    space gives attention to peoples role

    [in changing this culture]. Its intelligence is

    not always clear. The below-ground servicing

    and sterility of the market itself means though

    that there is none of that characteristic

    market buzz and messiness. For one thing

    that would be inimical to the residents

    looking down from above.

    For all these drawbacks, the numbers

    suggest that the Markthal is a commercialsuccess. As have been the apartments above;

    half were built for sale and almost all (in

    marked contrast to OMAs half-deserted De

    Rotterdam) have found buyers including most

    of the 24 penthouses. This despite each unit

    having an exceptionally deep plan and their

    market hall ends being undeniably gloomy

    with their reliance on borrowed light from

    the halls glazed ends. The wilful shape of

    thebuilding also makes for some me

    awkward internal spaces. One duple

    penthouse visited has a large window

    room with a raked floor on its lower

    and two bedrooms of its three lookin

    its small light-well. The suggestion tthe lightless space could be used as a

    home cinema becomes less far-fetche

    when you hear that one buyer is com

    two penthouses and talking of buildi

    a swimming pool.

    There is curiosity value then in M

    immovable feast with its seemingly c

    jolie laideproportions and it has bro

    vigour to a corner of the city demand

    it.But for all its noodle-headed re-sh

    andarchitectural gymnastics, Rotter

    hasfailed repeatedly in its mission t

    urbanistically fit. Replacing the starv

    of post-war zoning with a stodgy die

    of instant icons all those big-budgecantilevers and weirdly wobbly facad

    has hindered as much as helped.

    Is the Markthals alternative, say

    of well-considered blocks and a mark

    similar to that built in Ghent by Rob

    Daemand Marie-Jos Van Hee (AR F

    2013). really such plain fare by comp

    Rotterdams grand gestures are lead

    toadanger of recreating la Grande B

    There is curiosity value inMVRDVs immovable feastwith its seemingly calculated

    jolie laideproportions and ithas brought vigour to a cornerof the city demanding it