OMA completes pixellated Timmerhuis complex in Rotterdam

| 17 comments

OMA has merged a municipal office block from the 1950s with a pixellated steel and glass structure to create a new mixed-use building in Rotterdam's city centre (+ slideshow).

Timmerhuis by OMA
Photograph by Ossip van Duivenbode

Located in the city's Laurenskwartier neighbourhood, not far from where the Rem Koolhaas-led firm is based, the Timmerhuis accommodates a range of uses, including a new city museum, council offices, apartments, shops and restaurants.

Timmerhuis by OMA
Photograph by Ossip van Duivenbode

Unlike its more traditional brick-built neighbours, the 15-storey structure was designed to express its contemporary steel structure.

Its form is broken down into cuboidal modules, each measuring 7.2 metres wide, 7.2 metres deep and 3.6 metres high. This creates the pixellated appearance, which helps to break down the the overall scale.

Timmerhuis by OMA
Photograph by Sebastian van Damme

The approach is not dissimilar to OMA's other recent addition to the Rotterdam skyline – the colossal De Rotterdam complex, made up of three connected but visually separate towers.

Timmerhuis by OMA
Photograph by Sebastian van Damme

But according to OMA partner Reinier de Graaf, the difference here was the aim to avoid making a bold intervention, and to instead create a structure that integrates with the existing city fabric.

Timmerhuis by OMA
Photograph by Sebastian van Damme

"Rather than adding another grand statement to Rotterdam's ecology of successive architectural convictions, the typical mass of Timmerhuis seeks to subtly negotiate between the architectures of the buildings surrounding it," he explained.

Timmerhuis by OMA
Photograph by Ossip van Duivenbode

The steel structure adjoins the retained wing of the original 1950s building, which was built after the original Stadstimmerhuis – or municipal office – was destroyed during the bombing of Rotterdam in the second world war.

Timmerhuis by OMA
Photograph by Ossip van Duivenbode

A wall that previously formed the building's facade is now incorporated into the interior of OMA's Timmerhuis. According to OMA, the two buildings "literally merge".

The complex contains a total of 48,400 square metres of floor space.



When OMA first won the competition for the project, the ground floor was expected to become a Stadswinkel, or "city shop", for public services. This part of the programme was later removed, so this level will now house a museum dedicated to local history.

Timmerhuis by OMA
Photograph by Sebastian van Damme

Floors one to five are offices, creating 1,295 workspaces that will be entirely occupied by the Rotterdam municipality.

Timmerhuis by OMA
Photograph by Ossip van Duivenbode

The nine floors above house a total of 84 apartments, with areas varying between 45 and 380 square metres. Thanks to the staggered form of the building, each home has its each rooftop patio.

A large car park is created in the basement, which offers a car sharing scheme for residents.

Timmerhuis by OMA
Photograph by Ossip van Duivenbode

The large number of window walls in the building prompted the use of triple glazing, which keeps the structure very well insulated. According to the firm, it is the first mixed-use building in the Netherlands to achieve the highest BREEAM sustainability rating.

Photography is by Sebastian van Damme, Sebastian van Duivenbode and Ossip van Duivenbode.

Timmerhuis by OMA
Concept diagram
Timmerhuis by OMA
Concept diagram
Timmerhuis by OMA
Site plan – click for larger image
Timmerhuis by OMA
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
Timmerhuis by OMA
Typical office plan – click for larger image
Timmerhuis by OMA
Office and housing plan – click for larger image
Timmerhuis by OMA
Typical housing plan – click for larger image
Timmerhuis by OMA
Cross section – click for larger image
Timmerhuis by OMA
Longitudinal section – click for larger image
  • Andrew

    How these guys still get work is beyond me.

    • rotterdam person

      Elaborate, please.

  • Archi-Nerd

    Meh.

  • Concerned Citizen

    It would be great if we could see photographs illustrating the pixilated part.

  • MRA

    Based on what has been shown here, the only thing I like is that each apartment has its own rooftop.

    • Thomas

      They don’t, only a few have.

  • crrc

    The shot through the light well looks interesting. It reminds me of a Kahn space, minus the humanity.

  • Felix Tannenbaum

    Tastes like a Hertzburger – delicious.

  • andrew daws

    Oh look. It’s been done before… in the 70s.

  • Mehlkraut

    Hate to say it but every time I cross paths with this building it already looks dated.

    • H-J

      So it blends in rather successfully with its surroundings?

      • Mehlkraut

        Touché.

  • Stephen

    OMA seems to consist of people with zero respect for context, but infinite respect for their own intellects. I wish they’d just stop.

    • Ard Buijsen

      This building is probably one of the few new buildings that actually is extremely contextual. So there are two possibilities – either you don’t know Rotterdam at all or you just want to bash OMA or this building…

  • TZ

    I don’t understand all the hate this project is getting in the comments section. I think it’s very successful.

    Those who claim its not a contextual project should bear in mind that Rotterdam is a rebuilt city – take a look at the skyscrapers in the background of the photos. OMA is contending with two pre-existing and conflicting contexts. And their project handles the dilemma very well.

    The skin is lovely, veil-like and delicate, almost like ice. It’s a complementary contrast to the adjacent brick building. (Reminds me of Holl’s addition to the Mackintosh building.) It is modern, as much of the city has become.

    Rather than building a tower which would crassly jar against the immediate urban fabric, they have developed a sort of pixelated mist that sits rather well on site. Maybe London could learn from this.

    Not usually an OMA fan, but they have really been hitting the mark lately.

    • Stephen

      Can’t agree I’m afraid. It doesn’t look like a ‘pixelated mist’ to me. There’s nothing ephemeral about it. Holl’s building opposite the Mackintosh in Glasgow that you cite is a disaster. A great lumpen shoebox that could be anywhere and looks just like half of his other work.

      Give me any number of Swiss architects or Caruso St John/Sergison Bates any time.

  • Fresh Haus

    It’s a thoughtful design.