The Markthal is a sustainable combination of food, leisure, living, and parking, a building in which all functions are fully integrated to celebrate and enhance their synergetic possibilities. A secure, covered square is nestled beneath a large arch, conceived as an entirely new take on a typical market square and its surrounding buildings. Located in the historic Laurenskwartier in the heart of Rotterdam, the Markthal is formed by the construction of privately-developed apartments arranged into a large arch, strategically allowing a private initiative to create a public space. The result is a covered square which features a central market hall during the day and, after closing hours, a lively series of restaurants on its lower levels. It is a hybrid building where visitors are able to shop, eat, enjoy a drink, live, and park their car.
The building has a total floor area of 95,000 square meters, with 228 apartments and 1,200 below-ground parking spaces. But the building’s most striking feature is its central market hall, which provides a home for 96 fresh food stalls and shop units, ranging from Rotterdam based businesses and market vendors to established local heroes. They offer a diverse range of products: from fresh fish to game, from cappuccino to cheese, from local favourites to exotic cuisine, and from bargains to exclusive slow food.
Located under the 40-metre-tall arch, the market hall is enlivened by a large mural covering the vaulted interior. “Cornucopia”, by artists Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam, shows massively enlarged images of food products alongside flowers and insects, in reference to Dutch still-life paintings from the 17th century. The entire work is over 11,000 square meters in size, with a resolution comparable to a glossy magazine. In order to achieve this sharpness, the image was rendered by Pixar software and printed onto perforated aluminium panels, which were then attached to acoustic panels for noise control. In contrast, the exterior façade, the floor of the market hall, and the surrounding public space are all clad in natural grey stone, helping to emphasise the colourful interior that is the building’s centrepiece.
In order to attract visitors, the building is designed with an open character. While the ends of the arch had to be physically closed to provide protection from the weather, they are kept as transparent as possible by a single-glazed cable net façade. With a construction system similar to a tennis-racket, pre-stressed steel cables create a suspended net onto which the glass panes are hung. Markthal’s cable net façade is the largest of its kind in Europe, and has enough flexibility to withstand heavy storms. The Markthal is also an energy efficient building, awarded a Very Good BREEAM rating.