De Rotterdam is a "dynamic presence
in the city," says Rem Koolhaas


Movie: in this exclusive interview, Rem Koolhaas tells Dezeen why the colossal new De Rotterdam tower is the most visible OMA skyscraper yet. "Nobody will be able to avoid" seeing it, he says.

OMA completes De Rotterdam "vertical city" complex

Located on the south bank of Rotterdam's Maas river, De Rotterdam is a 150-metre structure where overlapping glazed towers accommodate apartments, offices and a hotel. It is only the fourth high-rise that OMA has completed, even though the firm has developed designs for dozens over the years.

OMA completes De Rotterdam "vertical city" complex

"This is on a site where nobody will be able to avoid seeing the entire building," says Koolhaas, comparing the project with the Rothschild Bank Headquarters in London and CCTV Headquarters in Beijing, both of which are located within a dense cityscape. "It has a superb location on the river that can be only approached on one bridge, so we could really predict how it will be perceived," he said.

OMA completes De Rotterdam "vertical city" complex

OMA originally looked at designing two buildings on separate plots. The architect explains that he wanted to avoid "planting needles" so instead came up with a concept for a single structure with large vertical openings that break up the overall mass.

OMA completes De Rotterdam "vertical city" complex

"We made a building that consists of separate volumes that were slightly shifted vis-a-vis each other so that it was very adaptable," says Koolhaas. "We could easily replace one part with another part and therefore accommodate different logics and arguments."

OMA completes De Rotterdam "vertical city" complex

"This shifting creates a large building, but a large building that is a very dynamic presence in the city, because it is very different from any angle. It can be a wall, it can be almost three separate buildings, it can be a single mass," he adds.

OMA completes De Rotterdam "vertical city" complex

The building officially completed yesterday. Tenants including the municipality of Rotterdam are expected to move in over the next year.

Rem Koolhaas at the launch of De Rotterdam
Rem Koolhaas at the launch of De Rotterdam

Images of De Rotterdam are courtesy of the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions.

  • gogozg

    One of the worst OMA projects.

    • davvid

      No way. It just has fewer quirks and flourishes.

  • Eddie Fumar

    Sorry Rem. This is really out of scale and damn ugly as well.

  • Leo

    It looks like an assymetric version of the Brazilian central bank.

  • Robert Thomas

    I really care that you understand that I do not care. Isn’t that so ironic? The joke’s on you. Poor Rem… what’s he to do with this world of dumb people (wink wink). Give them what they want.

  • I would agree, this is not his best work. It looks quite massive and hulking there alone on the waterfront.

  • Arheydees Varken-Izor

    Headline should read: “Architect Shits On His Own Doorstep”.

  • Jimbo

    Yes, do plant a monster pile of turd instead of needles.

  • ivan

    Money: 1
    Architecture: 0

    • Matt

      Ego: 74

  • Airborne

    High-rise buildings that look top heavy are awkward. And this one is massive too. Poor Rotterdam.

  • pipo

    I like it and think it is a great addition to the city of Rotterdam.

    Always when I passed by it made me think of the novel “High Rise” by J.G. Ballard.

  • Otis

    Reminded me of the “Toaster” in Circular Quay Sydney.

  • papiriolovkA

    The best OMA design to date.

    • Aris

      The best design to destroy the skyline of a city!

  • rcs410

    If the Empire was to hire an architect to design the new Death Star, it goes without saying that OMA would be their first choice.

  • RayRay

    Bravo! OMA makes an Arquitectonica project.

  • Olly Barnard

    That ain’t no gem from Rem!

  • Gayle Alstrom

    I find it breathtaking.

  • Wooohoo

    I love this one.


    As an actual San Franciscan, I wouldn’t go near it. I wasn’t around in 1906 but I was here in 1989. There is a good reason that there is no hi-rise housing here. It’s too bad that greed, suburbanisation and homogenisation of cities has effected us so badly here.

  • hop

    This project is amazing. It is truly sculptural, a huge piece of quartz. Its oversized scale is perfectly calculated and contributes to its sublimity. A jewel in Rotterdam. From a thankful Rotterdamer.