with a design that prioritizes functionality and circularity, MVRDV reveals its scheme for a new exhibition space and visitor centre at rotterdam port in the netherlands. the ‘harbour experience centre’ comprises five stacked and rotated volumes wrapped in external staircases, which take visitors from the ground all the way to a rooftop terrace. the eye-catching building will be constructed from reclaimed and recycled materials, and the structure itself is designed to be easily disassembled and reused.
close up view, image © MVRDV (also main image)
the harbour experience centre will replace an existing information centre called ‘futureland’. MVRDV‘s new intervention will provide a larger, permanent exhibition where people can learn about europe’s largest port. it also boasts a more prominent location than its predecessor at the harbour’s western-most point. with its tall, stacked structure, the centre is imagined as a beacon against the flat landscape.
stairs and plaza, image © MVRDV
for the design of the experience centre, MVRDV adhered to louis sullivan’s old adage, ‘form follows function‘. informed by the industrial activities of the port, the building is shaped according to the program. each square-shaped floor has a large panorama window and is rotated to frame different views according to the function inside. the ground floor café is orientated westward for views of the dunes and the north sea while diners in the fourth floor restaurant can enjoy views on both the north sea and the twinkling lights of the harbour in the evening.
roof overview, image © MVRDV
‘we think of the harbour experience centre as a machine to reveal the incredible world of the port,’ says MVRDV founding partner winy maas. ‘it’s low-cost, it’s stripped back, you can see some of the building’s structure when you’re inside. but it therefore does its job almost ruthlessly – just like the machinery of the port itself. every part of the design is geared towards engaging people and then educating them about their surroundings. in that way, it not only teaches people about the port of rotterdam, but envelops them in the spirit of the port itself.’
interior view, image © MVRDV
the permanent exhibition, designed by kossmanndejong, occupies the three middle levels of the building. each of the three floors focuses on a different theme and the panorama windows are orientated towards elements within the port that enhance the content of the exhibition.
interior exhibition, image © kossmanndejong
puncturing the core of the building is a circular shaped atrium. an explanatory kinetic sculpture will hang in this voluminous space with a model of the port of rotterdam underfoot. staircases line the atrium for visitors with tickets but people can also access the building for free via the red external staircases, which provide a route up the various terraces to the rooftop and offer a sneak peek at the exhibitions inside.
roof sunset, image © MVRDV
MVRDV has specified materials that are simple, industrial, and sustainable. the construction will be energy-neutral, using steel donated from demolished structures, the façade panels will use partly recycled materials and have a high standard of insulation, and the acoustic ceilings will be made from recycled paper pulp. the structure is also designed to be easily taken apart so that parts can be reused. the façade panels will be returned at the end of the building’s lifespan under an agreement made with the manufacturer. even the building’s foundation, which avoids the use of concrete piles, is designed to leave no trace.