OMA wins competition for Stadskantoor building at Rotterdam’s City Hall


A month ago we presented you the finalist entries for Stadskantoor, a new mixed used building at Rotterdam’s City Hall. After a process of public feedback and a presentation to the professional jury, OMA‘s entry was awarded with the 1st prize.

The strategy of the project is very simple: a modular flexible structure spans between existing buildings, supporting the program, while freeing the space below for public use. The axonometric shown below shows this rich public realm that the offers back to the city.

With this modular structure, units can be added or even dismounted from the structure as demands on the building change over time, and can adapt to either office space or residential parameters as desired. Green terraces on higher levels provide the possibility of an apartment with a garden in the heart of urban Rotterdam.

© OMA - front view
© OMA - front view

For this project OMA worked with Werner Sobek and engineers ABT. Besides this particular structure, the building has a climate regulated by warm air stored in summer and released in winter, and vice versa, and the use of hi-tech translucent insulation in the building’s glass façade, addressing the main requirement for this building: to be the most sustainable building in the Netherlands.

© OMA - View from Coolsingel street
© OMA - View from Coolsingel street

“Rather than posing as the city’s next superlative, the design for the Stadskantoor is partly a building, partly an urban condition – a skyline in its own right. The design attempts to mediate between the adjacent town hall, post office and Stadstimmerhuis. Through an intentional ambiguity, the mass immerses itself in the city’s diverse architectural periods, absorbing the scales and styles of its immediate context.”

- Reinier de Graaf

© OMA - diagram
© OMA - diagram
© OMA - axo, ground level
© OMA - axo, ground level

The project is led by Reinier de Graaf and Rem Koolhaas.

© OMA - model
© OMA - model
© OMA - Model
© OMA - Model
Cite: Basulto, David. "OMA wins competition for Stadskantoor building at Rotterdam’s City Hall" 21 Oct 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 15 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    still making a buildings out of diagrams…Not that I think this project is bad by any means. I just think that there needs to be an extra step in the process somewhere between the diagramming stages and the formal solution.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +1

      definately… this direct diagram to form issue has become a real methodology problem.

      the diagrams are good… we like them…

      but architecture is not just diagrams.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0


      but why is he successful?

      or wt is the problem of diagramatic architetcure?

      or wt steps are missing btw diagram to architecture?

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Seems like not all residential and/or office units are going be getting any sunlight, it would seem like that would be a pretty crucial requirement.

    Also, this “cube stacking” idea seems to be carrying across a few of their projects:

    How do people feel about the “recycling of ideas” for different projects?

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I love the works from metabolists, but also wonder if metabolism can get away from simply boxes?

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    The people from Rotterdam voted for the project of SeARCH, OMA ended up as #4 out of 5… What’s the meaning of voting whitout influence?

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Ted, people have to stand up.
    In Milan we put up a fight and we changed the plans for the former “Fiera” area.
    SeARCH project was way better than this terrible, sad thing.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I agree to above comment that it is more like a diagram than articulated building. I am sure they can make more like a building in next stage of design development.

    Does anyone knows how this warm air, cool air concept works for climate regulation? sounds interesting though.

    “……the building has a climate regulated by warm air stored in summer and released in winter, and vice versa,…….”


  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I’m happy for this as well. OMA’s diagrams work and help them win projects because they communicate: I think that the diagram helps in the essentialization of a given brief, a recalibration based on a clarification of ideals, and ultimately a result that, while seemingly ‘undercooked’ compared to the popular alternative practice of naturalized rendering sophistry, creates a real alternative based on a shift in the way we think of the architecture from the ground up. The simplicity of the diagram is deceiving – it is NOT the architecture (go back and reread koolhaas, he isn’t confused which is which). The truss is just the means by which the project liberates the groundplane from the usual clutter of mechanical rooms and elevator lobbies. The best part of the whole project, perhaps, is the fact that it chops the block in two, effectively shortening the block and setting up that Jacobs idea of cross-mingling.
    It will be interesting to watch this project as it tries to achieve the elegant simplicity of the diagram in the completed project (and create the public space it suggests).

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