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Futuristic food shopping: Market Hall by MVRDV in Rotterdam

The new 'Markthal' by MVRDV in Rotterdam combines a covered food market and housing development in an innovative arch-shaped solution. On 1 October 2014 the colourful large complex was inaugurated by Queen Máxima of the Netherlands.

Architect: MVRDV, Rotterdam
Location: Nieuwstraat, 3011 Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The MVRDV architectural office won the competition for the planning of Rotterdam's new market hall in October 2004, whereby the brief was largely based on a European construction directive requiring food markets to be covered over in future. At the same time the building was to meet the community's wish for more space for services and apartments. Together with its client Provast, MVRDV sought for inspiration in southern Europe, where it recognised the potential of the region's market houses to act as a catalyst for enlivening Rotterdam's Laurenskwartier district. This now has a building about 40 metres high, 120 metres long and 70 metres wide as its new architectural centre-piece. 

It was the concept of combining the food market with apartments that gave rise to the opulent building typology. The arch-shaped roof of the large market hall not only covers a space some 8,400 square metres in size with room for 100 market stalls, but also contains a stand-alone residential complex made up of 228 units.  A supermarket and a car park with room for 1,200 vehicles are located below ground level.    

The building attracted about 12,000 visitors even while it was being built and up to seven million are expected a year in future. Work on the 175 million euro building began in 2009 with excavation of a 15-metre-deep construction pit. Due to the nearby Nieuwe Maas river, groundwater ran at a depth of three metres below street level, making special construction measures a necessity. After archaeologists had gone over areas of the site, divers laid reinforcements in the pit in summer 2011,  and went on to fill it with concrete within 72 hours. 

Once the underground car park had been completed, work began on the hall itself on 1 October 2012.  Erection of the two sides of the building was done quickly and efficiently by means of tunnel shuttering. The roof of the arch was realised in four parts, each supported by a temporary substructure according to the Super Support Construction approach. The steel and glass façade installed at the front and back of the arch-shaped building bends flexibly in strong winds, giving way inwards by up to 70 cm in extreme conditions. 

The 'Markthal' is a new addition to the experimental projects for visionary environments that the Dutch star office MVRDV is known for, and responds in both architectural and conceptual terms to the demand for multi-use buildings. Whether or not the complex will prove exemplary for future residential concepts is something that only time can tell. 

Project data

Client: Provast Nederland bv, Hague, Holland
Structural engineer: D3BN/ DHV, Hague, Holland: Maurice Hermens
Acoustic: Peutz & Associes Zoetermeer, Holland: Peter Wapenaar
Space planning: 228 apartments, 100 market stalls, storage facilities,  supermarket and 1.200 parking spaces

Material: in-situ concrete, glass
Site area: 8,400 m²
Usable space: 100,000 m²
Surface: 95,000 m²
Completion: 2014
Cost: 175 Million Euro

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