Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Mini Mall in Rotterdam, Holland by PEÑA architecture & AFARAI
October 20th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: PEÑA architecture & AFARAI
Mini Mall: A shopping mall with a compact, contemporary programme in a monumental building.
The Mini Mall consists of 2500 sq. m. of retail and catering space for entrepreneurs, artists, designers and other creative minds, who will breathe new life into this unique area as from spring 2011. The development of the Hofplein Station into a compact shopping mall comes in response to a lack of affordable locations in Rotterdam where fresh new initiatives can see the light of day, but also with the aim to give the neighborhood quality boost.
The Mini Mall offers space for special catering outlets, original shop formats for independent designers, vintage clothing, high class sneakers, handmade accessories, comics & second-hand furniture. Mini Mall offers more than shopping; you can also enjoy a ‘high wine’, a latte macchiato, personal training, jazz concerts and club nights.
Its central location and authentic character make the future Mini Mall a place where both the people of the city and international visitors can feast on fashion, music, art, design and lifestyle and good food, every day of the week.
A special quality that’s added to the national monument is the public area (courtyard) through the arches where all the activities of individual entrepreneurs meet. So the monument was broken up from the street and made accessible to the public. Temporary events and pop-up formulas constitute the unifying factor within the Mini Mall and creating every time a new reality to be experienced
The Mini Mall has been designed by PEÑA architecture and AFARAI. The specific role of the architects was broader than just the architectural design. The concept “Mini Mall” is conceived by the architects and presented as spatial and economic business model.
After the elaboration of this concept to the final design, the architects made the communications and branding concept. This set up has resulted in more than 80% occupation before completion.
Early 20th century in the northern part of Rotterdam, through the middle of 19th-century city suburbs and the nearby polder landscape, the Hofplein viaduct was built. This 1.9 km long viaduct forms the start of the Hofplein line route, a 28.5 kilometre railway line linking Rotterdam with The Hague and Scheveningen. The building of the Hofplein viaduct was a spectacular breakthrough in the development of railway viaduct construction. Never before had an elevated railway been built that consisted only of reinforced concrete, and that with a span of 1.9 km. National recognition followed in 2002 when the whole Hofplein viaduct was declared a National Monument.
In 2005 four housing associations (now Havensteder and Vestia) joined forces and purchased the Hofplein line railway viaduct from the Dutch Railways. The reason behind this move was the dominant presence of the Hofplein viaduct in the urban area of Rotterdam North, an area that is extremely important to the corporations concerned. Due to its length, the viaduct crosses several city suburbs and at certain points the line is literally wedged in by later urban expansion. Consequently, the Hofplein viaduct also makes a vital contribution to the quality of social life in the surrounding area. The aim of the purchase is to restore the neglected Hofplein viaduct to its former glory so that it will actively contribute to the quality of the public surroundings.
Since 2006, Crimson Architectural Historians appointed to lead the project Hofbogen. They made a historic exploration of the Hofplein viaduct and published the book The Future Hofbogen: the longest building in Rotterdam which presented a comprehensive vision for the future of the 1.9 km long viaduct Hofplein.
In 2008, the development started with the first seven arches of the monument with the aim to give the environment a neighborhood quality boost in a contemporary way. The project was completed in May 2011 en opened in September 2011.
In this area the entrepreneurs have also a storefront besides the storefront on the street but both of them are executed in Oregon Pine. The shopping windows ad daylight and transparency to the courtyard and brings out the activity between the shops and visitors.
The courtyard is not just designed to make the building accessible but also adds a new route to the area. People no longer need to go around the building but can use the courtyard to cross to the other side of the building.
The Mini Mall also provides access to the largest open-air ground in the heart of Rotterdam. The roof (4000m2 open air place) is during the summer the place for music, theater, film, dance and good food with the city as a backdrop.
To generate full transparency and accessibility different interventions are used to fulfill the design. One of the first steps has been the infrastructure below the concrete floor for all the electrical and mechanical installations. Existing bricked facades have been replaced by wooden Oregon Pine windows. This new facade is put back (50cm niches) creating an advantage to display the monumental piers with their ornaments. The new niches are also part of the infrastructure of the installations. Here we regulate the ventilation capacity for the whole building. Together these three elements (monumental piers, wooden windows and niches) display the new façade of the building.
Role of architects
The specific role that the architects played in this process was broader than just the architectural design. PEÑA architecture and AFARAI conceived the concept “Mini Mall” and presented it as spatial and economic business model to the client. After the elaboration of this concept to the final design, the architects made the communications and branding concept. This set up has resulted in more than 80% occupation before completion.
The architects work:
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