Rotterdam + Hamburg: Markthal + Elbphilharmonie

Scheme: Markthal | City: Rotterdam | Developers: Provast | Architect: MvRdV
Scheme: Elbphilharmonie | City: Hamburg | Developers: | Adamanta + Hochtief |
Architect: Herzog and De Meuron

Resident feedback: None available


Why are you looking at a picture of a covered market and a concert hall? Because they are also housing. Both Rotterdam and Hamburg are undergoing inner city revivals, and their city commissioners have been rightly keen to promote mixed use rather than any separation of housing and other functions. elbe07These two landmark buildings take the recipe a step further, adding ‘wow’ to the list of ingredients, and hoping that as signature architectural dishes, they will have the (now somewhat clichéd)
Bilbao effect. Architects absolutely love this kind of commission: the chance to create a new typology, and to show off their skill at both housing and a major public building (and much more: shops, hotel, you name it). But are all these uses compromised by the union? I couldn’t get close enough to Hamburg’s unfinished (and vastly over-budget) Elbphilharmonie to find out. The 45 homes there will undoubtedly fetch a premium which will assist with the cost overrun. (Hamburg’s nervous civil servants should take heart from Sydney Opera House whose tenfold cost escalation was legendary at the time but is now all but forgotten due to its iconic status). 02-Section-Markthal-Apartments-Market-Shops-and-Catering-Parking-www-designstack-coThe enormous penthouses at the Rotterdam Markthal cost as little (sorry) as half a million pounds, but they too will help to cross-subsidise this scheme, also bringing much needed residential life back into the city centre. I understand from MvRdV that the developer, having taken quite a risk with this building, wants to repeat their party trick elsewhere – so the maths must have worked. The startling Markthal space was hot, close with cooking smells/atmosphere and (following a long debate), the residential windows do not open into it. The flats which have one of their aspects into the market space (especially at the centre) will inevitably be gloomier than those at the edge. Almost all 228 flats have sold or been rented, however, and at well above prevailing market rates. The list of technical and logistical challenges presented by a horseshoe-shaped apartment building covering a market-cum-restaurant should not be underestimated. But if you’d just done two buildings looking at each other across a square, that wouldn’t have been such a magnet (sorry again), would it…?


Thanks to Lachlan Anderson-Frank for showingIMG_0301 (2) me the Markthal (much better photos on the web) and lending me the lovely bright yellow MvRdV bicycle.

3 comments on Rotterdam + Hamburg: Markthal + Elbphilharmonie

  1. Thanks, Claire. I was interested in what you were going to say about the Markthal in Rotterdam. When we were over there last November I found myself intrigued and impressed by the architecture – to a lay person it is undoubtedly eye-catching – but less than impressed by the market, largely because I wouldn’t quite consider it a market in the sense we understand European markets, covered or otherwise. I enjoyed a very well-structured herring, and there were plenty of other temptations of various kinds. There were a few stalls selling some fresh things. But there didn’t seem to be much of a connection between them and to that extent it felt like a version of Borough Market rather than say La Boquería, the old central market in Athens or [insert as required].

    ‘Startling’ is a good adjective. Did you manage to talk to any residents? I hope it works well: I think Rotterdam is a very likeable place and the city’s commitment to its past, present and future feels sincere and very well-intentioned.

    1. The market is a little limited. Apparently the spaces in there are more expensive than the ones outside so only certain vendors can afford to be there (which is reflected in the produce). My favourite one is the Saluhall in Stockholm which I’m looking forward to revisiting in a couple of weeks. I didn’t manage to speak to a resident, no. The whole of northern Europe appears to be on holiday…

  2. Dear Claire, Many thanks for this and your other very interesting posts. As you know, I am particularly interested in the ways in which food shapes our lives and cities, so the relationship between housing and markets is fascinating to me – much to be explored here, and I love the conceit of the Markthal, although I also fear that it is not really a ‘market’ in the true sense. As it happens I was part of a recent discussion on this which may interest you, see here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04y9nl8. Best of luck with the rest of your trip, you must be developing very impressive calves! 😉 Much love, Carolyn xx

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