Prix de Rome
Project: Cabinet of Curiosities
Client: Prix de Rome, Mondriaan foundation
Status: winner Prix de Rome 2014
Rotterdam is a modern city. A city of grand gestures, of functional separation and abundant space. A rough and tough city that is not concerned with congeniality but with progress. After 70 years of reconstruction, the city is keen to make the heart, which ever since the bombardment has been a centre of work and shopping, an attractive place to live in once again. The characteristic emptiness, originally seen as modern, efficient and generous, is increasingly experienced as ill-defined and inhuman. The public space is too large. The built fabric consists of exceptionally large, solitary buildings whose main ambition is to be iconic. The solitary buildings stand aloof from their context, they make no claims on the surrounding space.
This plan introduces order into Rotterdam’s incoherent urban fabric without resorting to reckless demolition. The solitary buildings are cherished by embracing them with a strong urban architecture. This project intensifies the public space by allowing the iconic buildings to excel, while at the same time integrating them with the city.
Urbanist structures will be placed around the solitary buildings. They vary in depth and porosity so as to be able to accommodate a range of functions. Sometimes they create a wall, sometimes boundaries are set in the form of a building. Each object will have a specific interior, thereby turning the ill defined space into a well-defined public space, with interaction between street, structure and object. The latter are formed by the clear urban boundaries and link up with the surrounding fabric. Movements between the various settings are flanked by the walls and clearly and spatially separated from the interiors.
Cabinet of Curiosities proposes a radical and sensitive re-ordering of the centre of Rotterdam in those places where there is a lack of clarity in spatial experience and where solitary buildings stand in the way of a coherent urban fabric. The introduction of clear boundaries both addresses and differentiates Rotterdam’s public space, while new spatial connections in the form of new squares, streets and lanes create a coherent network. The centre of Rotterdam will boast a richer, more varied spatial experience thanks to the curating of Rotterdam’s curiosities.