Rotterdam City Hall Competition Proposal by OMA


The City of Rotterdam held a competition for a mixed-use extension for the City Hall, accommodating public and administrative facilities and a residential program. The competition requests that the mixed-use building becomes “the most sustainable in the Netherlands”.

Five designs were presented by the City, and they will be on public display at the NAI until Sept 13th to receive public feedback, which can also be made through the website. The teams will present to the jury on Septh 23th, and the winner will be announced sometime in October.

The 5 finalists are: Claus en Kaan Architecten, Mecanoo Architecten, Meyer en van Schooten Architecten, OMA and SeARCH.

OMA shared with us their finalist entry, in collaboration with  ABT and Werner Sobek Green Technolgies. The project adheres to the highest energy efficiency requirements, and it also considers a sustainable approach in terms of speed of construction and future flexibility of the building through a repeated and flexible structural system.

Images from the other proposals will be featured on another article. ’ statement and more images after the break.

What does Rotterdam really need?

After an impressive sequence of abrupt architectural transitions – from the stark modernity of the reconstruction, via the “new humanism” of the cubes, the repressed postmodern of the 90s to the current apotheosis of Dutch modernity – launched by the fireworks of the 1940 bombardment, all these ideologies coexist and interact in harsh juxtaposition, each successive layer oblivious and in contradiction to the previous ones.

What is now needed may be subtlety and ambiguity in the midst of an overdose of form. We propose a “formless” heap, consisting of smaller elements that are shaped to perform a number of major and minor responsibilities.

Where necessary the shape can be formal and impressive, almost symmetrical – for instance, from the Coolsingel, glimpsed between the two survivors – and where desired, it can be delicate and accommodating – for instance in its relationship with the existing monument, Stadstimmerhuis.

Our structural system – a three dimensional Vierendeel structure in steel – enables us to improvise and to liberate the ground almost in its entirety, to interpret the “Stadswinkel” as an unencumbered public space, in which we arrange the interaction between citizen and city in a dignified, spacious urban landscape, with an almost “Roman” scale and materiality.

- Rem Koolhaas

Street level, © OMA
Street level, © OMA
Model frame, © OMA
Model frame, © OMA

Project: Redevelopment Stadskantoor Rotterdam
Status: Competition 2009
Client: Ontwikkelingsbedrijf Rotterdam (OBR)

Location: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Budget: €65 million
Site: 6 hectares located behind town hall, including the municipal monument Stadstimmerhuis
Program: Total 48.400m2. Stadswinkel XL: 8.700m2, municipal offices: 15.700m2, residential 10.400m2, additional public spaces 3.400m2, retail 1.600m2, parking 8.600m2.
Total floors: 20, of which 3 underground
Maximum height: 63m

Partners in charge: Rem Koolhaas and Reinier de Graaf
Project Manager: Mark Veldman

Competition Team: Rem Koolhaas, Reinier de Graaf, Mark Veldman, Pascual Bernad, Vilhelm Christensen, Alessandro De Santis, Katrien van Dijk, Jake Forster, Alasdair Graham, Mendel Robbers, Dirk Peters, Tsuyoshi Nakamoto, Timur Shabaev, Yuri Suzuki, Milos Zivkovic.

Engineers Structure and MEP: ABT, Velp, The Netherlands
Sustainability Consultants: Green Technologies, Stuttgart, Germany
Costs Consultants: PRC, Oosterbeek, The Netherlands

Cite: Basulto, David. "Rotterdam City Hall Competition Proposal by OMA" 03 Sep 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • temple

    nice simplicity!

  • rodrigobocater

    with to vague renders and just one street plant its kinda dificult to define it, but at the overall it surprises me.

    probably its a Ellen van loon project, not khoolhaas!

    • David Basulto [tricky]


      Partners in charge are Rem Koolhaas and Reinier de Graaf

    • Peter

      Ya, I’m agree. Khoolhaas is a tired and not motivated architect, he doesn’t seem interested in architecture anymore. May be he hates all what is happening with the current architecture circus, or may be he is just old and tired.
      This is one example of whats happening in OMA’s office, the present designs undefined, this kind of diffuse image is really cheap architecture, I expect an better explanation comming from one of the best architecture firms in the world. Because this project seams done by some student.

  • Mattyb

    Do these guys do anything other than cubes stacked together with bits taken out?

    • Tommy

      mmmm… No!

      Well, the image is nice, but it seems something that OMA wants to do a long time ago, and now they found the oportunity. But for me this is not the right program and plot to do this cubes mountain.
      It’s a shame that somebody did that before: DnB NOR headquarters by MVRDV

  • Frank

    I don’t think OMA is going to win this one. Although their energy system (not mentioned here) sounds genius, I think some of the other proposals are way more interesting.

    I wonder why OMA creates such vague renderings. It is almost as if the way it looks doesn’t matter at al.

    • Tuf-Pak

      Can you briefly describe the energy system? It’s only alluded to in the text and I’m curious.

      • Frank

        I’m sorry, I referred to an energy system, but it should be a sustainability system.

        They designed a structural system with small standardized steel elements. All cables and other installations can be placed inside this structure. Koolhaas says that it can be built in 6 months.

        In this way, OMA’s sunstainability solution is radically different from the others. The other proposals are trying to make it sustainable with fancy technology. One has a gigantic ice cube inside it, to cool the building. Another reflects sunlight into the building with gigantic mirrors.

        That’s why I called OMA’s sunstainability plan genius. No fancy technology but a sustainable structure that maximizes the free space inside.

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  • arch critic

    frank, ive seen your portfolio, your a fan, so fall back.

    • Frank

      @arch critic: i’m a fan, so fall back? I’ve got no idea where you’re talking about.

  • Ala

    I would vote for OMA after looking at others through the web links.

    I like the idea of freeing up the bottom of the whole facade almost the top parts are floating and undulating. Cubes, diagrid, Curves whatever you create, they could be great or pretty mundane. It is not the cubes or diagrid, or curves. It is the way you design it.

  • ray

    rem will win as the other four are even worst than him.

    • John

      If OMA win this competition is because they are called OMA. Because they don’t have the best design, their design is just nice architecture, but it doesn’t work and it’s not sustainable. I went to the NAi, and after see all the booklets I can say that is clear:
      1st_Mecanoo: simple, inteligent and sustainable
      2nd_Claus en Kaan: serius and it works
      3rd_OMA: just nice
      Search and Meyer, no comment.