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MVRDV’s Experience Center Features Stack Of Five Rotated Exhibition Spaces On The Port Of Rotterdam

MVRDV’s Experience Center Features Stack Of Five Rotated Exhibition Spaces On The Port Of Rotterdam

MVRDV has revealed the design for a new exhibition and visitors centre for the Port of Rotterdam located at the harbour’s western-most point.

Called Harbour Experience Centre, the new building, comprising a stack of five rotated exhibition spaces, stands out from its flat, is opened to its surroundings, while offering spectacular views in all directions of the coastline, the port, and the ocean.

The Harbour Experience Centre, scheduled to open in 2024, will feature a bold, red-colored staircase wrapping the building towards its end point.

The Harbour Experience Centre has been designed as the successor to FutureLand, a temporary information centre that opened in 2009, and its success prompted to design for a larger permanent exhibition centre in the port, aiming to teach people about Europe’s largest port.

The Harbour Experience Centre aims to bring the visitor centre to a more prominent location on the beach, creating a beacon that is visible from all around.

The design is led by MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas and he said: “We think of the Harbour Experience Centre as a machine to reveal the incredible world of the port.”

“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,” Maas added.

The building is designed with a practical, no-nonsense approach to its task, channelling the spirit of the port with its simple functionality, dramatic presence, and industrial materials.

As MVRDV states, the shape of the building is a direct response to the activities taking place inside and out: Each floor is drawn on a square in plan and has a large panorama window to frame a view, which together give an overview of the buzzing harbour.

The orientation of each floor, and the direction its main window faces, corresponds to its function: on the ground floor café, this window faces 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.

Inside, a permanent exhibition is designed by Amsterdam design agency Kossmanndejong, the exhibition is spread over the three levels in between.

In the exhibition, each level has a different theme, and the panorama windows that are focused on elements within the port that enhance the content of the exhibition.

A large atrium is designed at the centre of the building, the atrium also acts as an exhibition space in its own right. The Kossmanndejong team will hang an explanatory kinetic sculpture from the ceiling at the heart of atrium, with a model of the Port of Rotterdam underfoot.

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This impressive space is emphasised by the entrance from the ground floor, with a rotating door concealing the exhibition behind until visitors enter the voluminous heart of the building.

Visitors can also ascend the building without a ticket on the outside, with staircases providing a route up the various terraces to the rooftop. Along the way, showcase windows offer a preview of the exhibition inside to entice visitors inside.

For material choice, MVRDV uses simple, industrial, and sustainable materials. As the MVRDV team emphasizes, “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 construction of the building is designed based on circular principles: the structure will be demountable so that its parts can easily be reused, and the façade panels will be returned at the end of the building’s lifespan under an agreement made with the manufacturer.

For the building’s foundation, the studio avoids the use of concrete piles, is designed to leave no trace.

The Harbour Experience Center is envisioned as “an energy-neutral building”. Thanks to its compact volume and efficient insulation and mechanical components, the building’s energy will locally be generated by 266 solar panels and its own windmill.


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