Rotterdam: the arena of weird architects

  How will a city be rebuilt after being razed to the ground by a bomb? Many European cities that suffered heavy losses in World War II have a set of almost standard answers: people collect old classics, design drawings, paintings, photos, and even postcards, call for collective memory, and rebuild them as they were.
  A city rejected the standard answer. Instead of rebuilding it as it was, it opened its arms and allowed architects to realize their whimsical ideas on this land and become an arena of modern architecture. It is Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
  Rotterdam is named after the small river Rotter in the city and the Dutch word Dam, which means dam. The Rotter River originally flowed into the Maas River. In 1250, people built a dam on the north bank of the Maas River and separated the two rivers with a gate, so Rotterdam was born.
  In the 19th century, Rotterdam’s port hub status became more and more important, and the city expanded rapidly and became one of the largest ports in the world. During World War II, Rotterdam was indiscriminately bombed by German forces and was almost razed to the ground. Only a few buildings remained, and thereafter, there was a unique reconstruction in Europe.
  Unlike the old European cities that seem to be living in the Middle Ages and will not change after two decades of visits, Rotterdam is always changing. Come and take a look after a few years, and weird buildings will rise from the ground. But in the past ten years, no new building has the ability to focus beyond the Markthal arched market, which is known as the “world’s most beautiful market”.
  The arch market is regarded as the first stop of the “Rotterdam Architecture Tour” because it is breakfast time. Order a few seafood in front of a dazzling array of restaurants and watch the clerk pick up a fresh Atlantic herring on the chopping board, cut and remove the internal organs along the belly of the fish, scrape the scales to pick the bones, and sprinkle pickles and diced onions without rinsing. After taking it, learn the Dutch way of eating, grab the tail of the fish, lift it up, put it directly into the mouth, let the delicious raw herring spit out the smell of sea water in the mouth, and then feel the rich oil and natural Sweetness. Then go to the coffee shop next door to order a cup of coffee, go to the cake shop to choose a slice of cake, the whole morning is full of vitality. This is also the daily life of many people in Rotterdam, but before 2014, all this will be done outdoors.

The Erasmus Bridge resembles a swan.

The outer wall of the central library is covered with pipes.

  Unlike indoor markets where Chinese people are accustomed to shelters, Western Europeans are more accustomed to open-air markets. The Markthal arched market, which was born in 2014, was the first indoor market in the Netherlands. Its façade is like a horseshoe, the interior is bright and clean, and the metal texture supplemented by the soft tones of the booth has both modern simplicity and liveliness, as well as the fireworks of daily life. In the 120-meter-long and 70-meter-wide market, there are hundreds of fresh produce stalls, a dozen shops, supermarkets, and several restaurants. The most eye-catching is the arched canopy that extends from the top of the head to the sides.
  With a ceiling height of 40 meters and a total arched ceiling of 11,000 square meters, it is a giant digitally printed mural. It is the largest work of art in the Netherlands and the largest indoor painting in the world. It was completed by artists Arnold Cunee and Alice Roskam under the name “The Horn of Plenty”. Colorful fruits, vegetables, flowers and insects, as well as heavy golden wheat ears, spread on the wall in the form of 3D images, blending with the fresh fruits and vegetables in the market, various fish and shrimps, large and small cheeses, and flowers still covered with dew. As one.
  The clarity of the huge murals is amazing, and the resolution is equivalent to that of a fashion magazine. It uses Pixar software for digital rendering, and then uses 3D projection technology to project on the 4000 perforated aluminum alloy panels on the ceiling. Because the image area is too large and the amount of data is astonishing, multiple computers and projectors are used to process them separately.
  The small windows on the mural are the biggest mystery of Markthal’s arched market-there are a total of 228 apartments on both sides of the arched ceiling. One side of the apartment faces the market, and the whole picture of the market can be seen from the window. It has the wit of “you are looking up at the mural, and the people behind the mural are watching you”. The setting of three-layer glass and overlay sound-absorbing panels can ensure that the apartment is not affected by noise and odors in the market.
  The Markthal arched market creates a completely independent living space. People living in the apartment can not only look at the super-looking market every day, but also solve all life problems without leaving the market. Its fashion subverts people’s inherent impression of the market and embodies the concept of community function unity.
  Its pursuit of this concept is in the same line as Rotterdam’s most famous building-the three-dimensional cube house.
  The three-dimensional cube houses are very close to the Markthal arched market. The BLAAK square area where they are located is the most concentrated place of creative architecture in Rotterdam. Along the way, you can see the Rotterdam Central Library, the largest library in the Netherlands, and it has many nicknames. Its half-sided stepped building gives it its name “Pyramid”. The thick yellow ventilation ducts climb on the wall and extend all the way to the top, making it nicknamed “Water Pipe Baby”, but the most appropriate nickname is “Rotterdam’s”. Pompidou”.
  Next to the three-dimensional cube house, there is a hexagonal tall building with blue oval windows covering the wall, and a pointed top is retracted at the top, which looks like a fat pencil as a whole. Some people joked that the horseshoe structure of the Markthal Arch Market is like a pencil sharpener, and it is just enough to make up a set of stationery with the Pencil House.

The arched market looks like a horseshoe.

Pencil House.

  The three-dimensional cube house built in 1984 was designed by architect Pete Blom. On the periphery of the building is a circle of simple white-walled commercial card slots, on which three-dimensional huts inclined at a 45-degree angle stand. Walking along the steps into the atrium of the three-dimensional cube house, you will be surrounded by these square huts with gray roofs and yellow walls in an anti-gravity posture. Looking up, I saw that the small house combined the edges and corners of different angles to draw out a piece of irregular sky, like being in a fantasy world.
  Blom’s design concept is to make these 58 three-dimensional huts form an urban utopia, where each house represents a tree and is connected as a forest. In the gap below the cube house, restaurants and shops are set up at seams to form a complete community.
  After the city government of Rotterdam developed this public house, 38 of them were sold as private houses and the others were used for commercial use. One of them was turned into a cube house museum. Walking into the cube house, I immediately marveled at its “big belly”. The outside does not seem to be a big “square”, but the inside is actually a three-layer structure. The bottom pillar supporting the entire cube can be used as a storage room. The first floor in the cube is the living room and kitchen, the second floor is the bedroom, study and bathroom, and the third floor is the attic, which has the best lighting and can be used as a leisure area. The real space for the occupants in the cube house is obviously less than that of the normal house, and many sections are not allowed to enter straight.
  Leaving the cube house and walking along the wide street, you will see the towering “red apple”. It was completed in 2009 and won many architectural awards. It is composed of a 124-meter-high slender building and a 53-meter-high pentagonal building. The bright red lines on the exterior wall are not painted, but come from the oxidation effect of aluminum plate electroplating. .
  Out of the protection of the old city, most European cities do not allow the construction of tall buildings in the old city. Rotterdam has the highest density of skyscrapers in Europe without accommodating the pressure of the old city. It is said that skyscrapers are generally only twenty or thirty stories, but with the geographical conditions of the Netherlands, it is already extremely difficult. The soil of this lowland country is soft. In the early years, the house was built by dense piles to fix the foundation. Nowadays, reinforced concrete pillars are used for adjustment. There are many adjustable pillars in the underground garages of skyscrapers.
  The city of Rotterdam is separated by the Maas River. If you want to visit the Erasmus Bridge that spans the Maas River and the well-known buildings on the other side of the river, the best way is to take a cruise on the Rotterdam Port.
  The cruise ship departs under the Erasmus Bridge, which connects Rotterdam from north to south. It was completed in 1996 and is 802 meters long. It is still the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world. Because the bridge body is shaped like a swan, it is called the swan bridge, and many Hollywood movies have been shot here. The building on the other side of the bridge is the award-winning Rotterdam Tower, which was completed in 2013. It adopts the concept of “vertical city” and integrates apartments, hotels, office buildings and commerce. The appearance resembles the dislocation and stacking of large containers, and it resembles a multi-level Rubik’s Cube. It can not only deal with strong winds, but also create more terrace space.
  As one of the most developed cities in the world, the high prosperity of industry and commerce has not made Rotterdam a “cement forest”. It does not blindly pursue innovation, does not regard strangeness as beauty, nor does it pursue the height and density of high-rise buildings. Whether it is the three-dimensional cube house more than 30 years ago, or the arched market in recent years, “people-oriented” is the first place.