Kunsthal, Rotterdam, Netherlands, OMA
Project year : 1992
Architect(s) :
Address : Museumpark, Westzeedijk 341, ROTTERDAM, Netherlands
Latitude/Longitude : 51.910809,4.473690

Photographs : | | |

Team : Rem Koolhaas, Tony Adam, Isaac Batenburg, Fuminori Hoshino, Leo van Immerzeel, Herman Jacobs, Ron Steiner, Jeroen Thomas
Interior Consultant : Petra Blaisse, Kyoko Ohashi, Hans Werlemann
Light Installation : Gunter Förg
Structural Engineer : Ove Arup, City of Rotterdam

Text description provided by the architects. Exhibition space of 3300 square meters, an auditorium and restaurant are the combination of Kunsthal into one compact design. Sloping floor planes and a series of tightly organized ramps provide seamless connection between the three large exhibition halls and two intimate galleries. The building is allowed to function as a gateway to Rotterdam’s most prized cultural amenities by its position that is wedged between a busy highway and the network of museums and green spaces. These are known as the museum park.

An auditorium and an independently accessible restaurant and also three major exhibition spaces to be used jointly or separately were demanded by the program.

Maasboulevard, a ‘highway’ on top of a dike borders with the southern edge of the site. The Museum Park, a conventional contemplation, faces the northern side, a level lower. That fact is a dual condition. The building was conceived as a square crossed by two routes: one, a road running east / west, parallel to the Maasboulevard; the other, a public ramp extending the north/south axis of the Museum Park.

The way to design a museum as four autonomous projects – a sequence of contradictory experiences which would nevertheless form a continuous spiral was the challenge that came from these givens and, also, the fact that these crossings would divide the square into four parts. In other words, the challenge was to imagine a spiral in four separate squares. The concept of the building is a continuous circuit.

A glass wall separating the outside, which is open to the public, from the inside, which is part of the circuit splits the pedestrian ramp. An auditorium, and beneath it the restaurant are accommodated by a second ramp, running parallel and reversed that is terraced. The two ramps cross on a level where the main entrance is defined. A second ramp which goes down to the park and up to the dike level is given to the visitor from there to enter.

A stairway and an obstructed view, which is gradually revealed – a landscape of tree-columns with a backdrop of greenery framed, and sometimes distorted by the different types of glass of the park facade are two things one confronts when approaching the first hall. The inner ramp leading to hall 2, a wide open sky lit space facing the boulevard follows from there. A more intimate single-height hall and further on to the roof terrace one can reach from a thrd ramp along a roof garden.

Contributed by OMA