Architecture competition for a new residence for the Rotterdam mayor and his family
Status: 2nd prize winner
Client: BNA Rijnmond office and ‘Rotterdam 2007 – City of Architecture’
Design: Monolab, team: J.W. van Kuilenburg with A. Chlebinska, E. Komarzynska
Year: 2007


…a platform on the Rotterdam urban horizon

Mayors of middle sized European cities live in a turmoil of political, corporate, cultural and private life. The residence operates in flexible ways between these four conditions like a multi core processor.


1. If one issue deserves a radical and future oriented approach, it is ‘the mayor’s residence’ that is still subject to traditional thinking.
2. If one Dutch city can be a test field for this new approach it is Rotterdam, where the moment has come for the city to get priority over the harbor.


Instead of a representative architecture we developed an architecture of processes. We designed a processor, a platform integrated in the city hall on Rotterdam’s main boulevard, the Coolsingel. It balances on the side rooftop. The current monumental entry and foyer of the city hall lead visitors and guests to the existing classical stairway with a new elevator shaft. This trajectory leads to the processor, a platform of two floors: a flexible interior below and on top a sky deck with ‘hortus conclusus’. Our design has four important qualities:
1. a clearly visible location in the epicentre of Rotterdam, at a height where the city is currently densifying,
2. a mix of four processes (politics, business, culture and private life) which is serviced by four cores,
3. internal programmatic flexibility by moveable separations and a flexible auditorium,
4. communication through a flat screen facade all around.


The processor is integrated in the city hall in four ways:
– It does not need a new plot of soil,
– The patio can be opened and delivers solar warmth in winter and ventilates and cools in summer,
– The passive climate in the processor is supported by a heat exchange unit that utilises the accumulation temperature of the solid city hall: coolness in summer and warmth in winter. The exchange unit, a metal technical ‘filigree’ pattern filled with cooling fluid, covers and changes the architecture of the inside of the historic stairway.
– Electricity is generated by solar cells on top of the processor roof.
Apart from the entry spaces and stairway, also existing security and distribution facilities of the city hall are utilized, a kind of programmatic spatial re-use.
The interior is managed by four cores: ‘entry’ (with service program), ‘food’ (kitchen serves all), ‘office’ (media core) and ‘culture’ (auditorium-patio as main link). Like bases they generate a maximized flexibility and freedom through moveable partitions. Zones can shrink, grow, overlap and separate. The platform in operation is like a fluid with continuous changing qualities. Its downtown position admits the Rotterdam population makes the residence itself into ‘the fifth core’ as its facade is finished with flat screens, communicating texts and images around as a medium for the mayor.
The processor is stabilized by a series of six, tuned Vierendeel trusses. Some of the vertical members, ‘columns’, are shifted to improve the floor plan. In the facade zone the trusses have mutated into big trusses with diagonal members. The processor is placed on top of six triangular steel frames that are integrated in the attic of the city hall.