MAD Architects has broken ground on the firm's first cultural project in Europe, the FENIX Museum of Migration in Rotterdam. Commissioned by the Droom en Daad Foundation, the project builds on the history of the Fenix warehouse, once the largest warehouse in the world. MAD’s renovation of the warehouse aims to connect the history of Rotterdam with the city's present culture.
Located on the Katendrecht Peninsula, the Fenix Warehouse became a significant port of immigration in European history. As the team notes, throughout the past century, the Fenix warehouse has been entwined with the history of Rotterdam. This includes its destruction during World War II, and multiple repairs in the 1940s and 1950s. MAD’s founder Ma Yansong said, “From a distance, the platform and staircase look like a single entity, but when it’s in front of you, it stands as a sculptural work that invites you to explore. It both signifies the Fenix’s witnessing of Europe’s history of migration from the port, and symbolizes the future of the city.”
To preserve the building’s historical legacy, MAD’s renovation embraces the structure's iconic green steel windows and the concrete frame of the Fenix warehouse. In the building’s center, the facade and roof are removed and replaced with glass curtain walls and ceilings, and the glazing also frames the scheme’s centerpiece staircase structure. The team made the new intervention as two spiral staircases that extend from the ground and form an observation deck at the top.
President of the Droom en Daad Foundation, Wim Pijbes, noted that, "A museum is a phenomenon that has a very strict idea and image in most people’s minds. I want to find a word that has a kind of hybrid function, a place, a platform, an agora." The FENIX Museum of Migration will have public entrances from both the riverside and the city. After its completion, the museum will hold an exhibition on the theme of "movement," with contemporary artworks and archives curated in collaboration with local and international art institutions.
News via MAD Architects