A gigantic covered market under a canopy of an (equally) gigantic explosion of vibrantly coloured fruit and vegetables which makes anyone standing within feel tiny. That is – essentially – what MVRDV’s Markthal Rotterdam design is all about. The project took five years to construct and was in planning for a decade. The result was well worth the wait. But the Markthal is more than just a simple market, it also provides housing and a series of social hotspots, transforming it into a true community hub.
Located in Rotterdam, MVRDV’s is the first covered market in the Netherlands. Outside, it may look like a clinical grey block, but inside it reveals a colour explosion. This is achieved thanks to its huge 40-metre arched ceiling graphic. It is the contrast between the inside and outside of in and out which makes this building work and gives it it’s unique personality.
The market hall is large. The main ground area has space for 96 fresh produce stalls and further room for 20 retail and hospitality units. Twenty-four-hour parking is (consisting of 1,200 spaces spread over four underground stories) is accessed by a central staircase – named The Time Stairs – which doubles up as a permanent exhibition on the history food and also displays some archaeological artefacts found during construction. This variation allows visitors to have a complete shopping experience.
The primary focus of the design, however, reigns its mega-mural on the ceiling, designed by artists Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam. It’s simply wonderful. The design – which covers an impressive area of one-hectar – is printed onto special aluminium panels and assembled like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. Each panel is perforated and lined with an acoustic layer to help control noise and allow the shopper a more pleasant experience. At night, the murales is lit for the surrounding city to enjoy.
The inspiration for this gigantic art piece comes from both the market itself, but also links to the famed Dutch painting traditions:
“Cornucopia shows oversized images of market produce which can be bought at the market, while the flowers and insects refer to the work of Dutch still life masters from the 17th century,” explains the architects.
At each end, large glazed walls protect the hall from the weather but also provide natural lighting to the inside and link the market to its surrounding city through framed views.
But this building is more than a large market. It is a mixed use building which also caters for private residential accommodation (owned and rented). In total, 228 units are arranged on nine storeys located in the arched walls on either side of the market. The typology of these vary from apartments and duplexes of various sizes (from 2 to 5 bedrooms). The apartments have balconies on the exterior (forming the shell of the building) but also windows looking into the market hall. This allows the residential units and the buzz of the main hall to connect more intimately, which is a great feature of this building.
MVRDV’s design, which was the winner of a competition launched by the city of Rotterdam in 2004, was opened by Queen Máxima of the Netherlands on the 1st October 2014. It was intended as a key element in the regeneration and redevelopment of the Laurenskwartier, Rotterdam, where it is located.