MVRDV has revealed the design of an exhibition and visitor centre for the Port of Rotterdam, which would tell the story of Europe’s largest port. Scheduled to open in 2024, The Harbour Experience Centre features a stack of five rotated exhibition spaces framing views of the surroundings, and outdoor staircases wrapped around the structure provide visitors with a route up the various terraces and to the rooftop. The project is the successor of FutureLand, a temporary information centre from 2009, whose success prompted the creation of a permanent exhibition.
Through its form and materials, the design echoes the pragmatism and functionality of the port. Each floor features a large panorama window framing a specific view, in tune with the activity taking place inside. The ground floor contains a café, and the fourth-floor houses a restaurant, while the levels in between are assigned to the permanent exhibition designed by Kossmanndejong. A large atrium at the centre of the building functions as an additional exhibition space, showcasing an explanatory kinetic sculpture and a port model.
We think of the Harbour Experience Centre as a machine to reveal the incredible world of the port. It’s low-cost, it’s stripped back, you can see some of the building’s structure when you’re inside. But it, therefore, does its job almost ruthlessly – just like the machinery of the port itself. Every part of the design is geared towards engaging people and then educating them about their surroundings. In that way, it not only teaches people about the Port of Rotterdam but envelops them in the spirit of the port itself - Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV
The building will be energy neutral and feature sustainable materials while also incorporating circular economy principles. Thus, the project makes use of steel donated from demolished structures; the façade panels will use partially recycled materials and the acoustic ceilings will be made of recycled paper pulp. In addition, the structure will be demountable, and an agreement has been made with the façade manufacturer for the panels to be returned at the end of the building’s lifespan. Moreover, the foundation avoids using concrete piles so as to leave no trace once the structure is removed.
- Client: Port of Rotterdam
- Size and Programme: 3500m2 museum
- Architect: MVRDV
- Founding Partner in charge: Winy Maas
- Partner: Fokke Moerel
- Design Team: Arjen Ketting, Klaas Hofman, Pim Bangert, Jonathan Schuster, Samuel Delgado, Duong Hong Vu, Monica di Salvo, Efthymia Papadima, Luis Druschke, Maximilian Semmelrock
- Strategy and Development: Magdalena Dzambo
- Exhibition designer: Kossmanndejong
- Structural engineer: van Rossum
- MEP, Building physics, & Environmental Advisor: Nelissen