FINAL PHASE WEENAPOINT
TARA LEWIS | PHOTOGRAPHY:
With the final phase of Weenapoint, Kruisplein will be given a fresh new start. The complex has been designed by Jacob van Rijs, founding partner of Rotterdam architecture firm MV RDV . The construction of these two- to three-hundred apartments, 17,000 m2 of office space, and a commercial plinth will commence soon. Their completion is expected mid-2022.
According to Monique Maarsen, demolishing the current building at Kruisplein had always been part of the plan. “With the current zoning plan, we had the opportunity to add more floorspace. This move was always considered as a last step at this location, as the final phase of the overall development of this area of Rotterdam.” In consultation
with the municipality, ten architects were approached, of which five were invited to present their vision. “Based on the presentations, three firms were then requested to work out their vision into a concrete plan and, from this, MVRDV was selected as the winner. This was the result not only of meeting objective, quantifiable criteria, but also of qualitative factors such as a feeling for the commercial value of letting the buildings and, simply, whether or not their style was appealing.”
The large, transparent floors is one of the aspects that really stands out for her. “For the rest, it’s a robust Rotterdam building that fits nicely with the buildings in the area, without being a direct copy.” “Well put”, agrees Jacob van Rijs. “This block, of course, has a rich history. It wasn’t all designed in one go but has been under development
for a long time. A process that is in fact ongoing: one part is taken down and then another part is added.” In his design, Van Rijs was inspired by the architecture of the post-war reconstruction.
“While Kruisplein is the entrance to the city, when you come into Rotterdam, the Lijnbaan is off to the left and right before you lies the Westersingel. This building combines those two things, by serving as an entryway to the cultural axis with a reference to the design of the Lijnbaan.” This was achieved, in part, by the striking elevated plinth.
Maarsen: “In that respect, this building is a contemporary interpretation of the Rotterdam style.” It fits within a revaluation of the post-war architecture, explains Van Rijs. “Many of the buildings were touched up, but the result was not really an improvement. You see now that this is receiving attention again and that buildings are being
restored. We need to encourage this and continue in this direction. The former Bouwcentrum, now renovated, is a part of this and has been restored to its former glory.”
The MVRDV design is also a better reflection of the national monument, adds Maarsen. “It is such a beautiful building and we have put a lot effort into the renovation. By including the opening beneath the low-rise section, the courtyard surrounding it will become visible and the building is once again open to passers-by. So, while you’re making
an enormous building with large floors and two towers, you’ve designed it in such a way that the area inside is now better connected with the city.”
Maarsen is thrilled that this final phase will make possible the introduction of more homes at Kruisplein. “It is absolutely our goal to make the Central District into a lively area. The best work-life balance is achieved with environments that mix the two together. In doing so, you contribute to public safety and a 24-hour economy. At the end of the day, that leads to better cities.”
Van Rijs is also very happy with the solution to leave a section of the building open to allow enough sunlight to reach the Kruisplein. “In addition, the building provides extra quality with its terraces and the shape of the building. In this way, you can optimise the impact of the building on its surroundings. It is great that people will come live here, but the quality of the public space has to be maintained.”
If it was up to Maarsen, she would like to see more terraces along the streets. “I don’t know what you think, Jacob, but the municipality sometimes expresses concern that this will clutter the city, although a bit of clutter certainly fits the Rotterdam style.” Van Rijs: “It is indeed a good idea to provide some direction here and not to leave it entirely to chance. This is done very well by the Industriegebouw, where you now have a varied selection of restaurants, cafes and retail.”
With Central Station just around the corner, cities like Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, Antwerp and London are easily accessible. Maarsen: “That is so neat about this place, you can board the train and go in all directions. That is why I have high hopes for the homes, you can just feel that this is going to become a fun and exciting area. That dynamic of setting off to discover Europe will make the atmosphere here quite different than, for example, along the Wilhelminakade.”
With the delivery of Weenapoint, the city entrance is seemingly ‘finished’. Van Rijs: “It is important that the entire area continues to be lively and appealing.” Maarsen: “If you ask me, the area is only finished when it has become a lively and safe part of the city 24 hours a day. That is when people will want to live and work there.”
In two earlier phases, the Maarsen Groep developed FIRST and Premier Suites & Offices (formerly Weena 750). Together with the grey building that stands at Kruisplein,
these buildings form the Weenapoint complex. The first phase of the transformation was finished in 2016 with the realisation of the new headquarters of NautaDutilh and Robeco in FIRST. Then, in 2017, the redevelopment of Weena 750 into the Premier Suites & Offices, the redesign of the courtyard and the renovation of the monumental
dome building were completed.
About Jacob van Rijs
Jacob van Rijs (1964, Amsterdam) studied architecture at the TU Delft from 1984 to 1990. In 1993, together with Winy Maas and Nathalie de Vries (his wife), he founded
the architecture firm, MVRDV. Their early designs include the prize-winning Villa VPRO. After the success of the Markthal, winning the design for ‘Sax’ on the Wilhelminakade
and the Depot Boijmans van Beuningen, Weenapoint has become the fourth most important project of this Rotterdam firm, with its office situated in the Industriegebouw.
About Monique Maarsen
Monique Maarsen (1968, Amsterdam) is general director of the family firm, Maarsen Groep, founded in 1946 by her grandfather. After a year at the Saint Clare’s College
in Oxford, she went on to study Business Administration & Management at the University of Groningen. After having first worked at Nestlé and DTZ Zadelhoff, she began in 2001 as commercial director of the Maarsen Groep. Maarsen Groep develops and invests in commercial real estate and apartment buildings. In Rotterdam, she has previously developed the Westerlaantoren in the Scheepvaartkwartier area, which is the former Vopak head office.