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Food For Architecture

By Kevin Naimoli


It was a brisk, overcast, spring day in the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands. After an adventurous morning biking through the streets, alleyways, and alongside canals; it was time to break from our tour at our next destination for some lunch.


Upon arrival, it was hard to miss the new iconic landmark situated in the square. A gracious arch-like building stood proudly before us. The cold gray exterior emphasized the hierarchy of the flourishing interior that awaited us. After finding room to stow away our two-wheelers it was time to venture on foot. It was easy to tell where we had to go. Large colorful murals of produce and flowers coated the interior arched walls, light from the windows penetrated the images piquing my interest even more. As we approached the large glass entry way, all 5 of our senses were stimulated. The air was filled with not only a blend of aromatic scents but also the chatter of merchants and shoppers. The copious markets and restaurants seemed to go on for eternity under the umbrella of apartments. As I walked slowly through the aisles, I could almost taste all the lush fruits, vegetables, smoked meats, cheeses, chocolates, stir-fry, tapas, sandwiches, steaks, wine, seafood…. I could go on forever. It was hard to decide on a single vendor, so of course the conscious answer was to try a little from as many possible. Now that is bliss.

Designed by MVRDV, the Markethal Rotterdam built in 2014, is a new concept that brings together housing, parking, and an open-air fresh food market. The design creates a space that is open and easily accessible to the public but at the same time closed off to the harsh weather conditions that can occur but also due to municipality regulation of chilled food in open air markets. The glass curtain wall system consists of a cable net façade allowing it to be as transparent as possible. The transitional use of Markethal succeeds in the convergence of the neighborhood and its surrounding context. There is certainly a strong urban retransformation of Binnenrotte Square which used to consist of open-air markets twice a week dating back to the 50s.

Moving forward in architecture and in society, looking to Markethal Rotterdam as precedent, with innovation as our passion we can create more spaces that are a collaboration of the essentials to living.

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