Not your average apartment complex
Rising 21 stories above the Meuse River (or Maas River), in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, the 2e Katendrechtse Haven apartment building (part of a larger neighborhood of apartments and single-family homes) is a marvelously a-typical structure – at least from a Westerner’s perspective. The Dutch, however, continue to produce exotic and unique building designs that are reflective of the independent spirit of this proud nation of 16 million people. (See the van Gogh Museum, The Animal Refuge Centre, The Music Building, etc.) Whereas most residential high-rises – perhaps even some in The Netherlands – are your average glass, steel and concrete rectangles, this complex is built with large-dimensioned red-brown brick and features a prominent, 39-foot overhang for each trapeziform tower.
Designed by DKV architekten of Rotterdam, the 2e Katendrechtse Haven project was built between 1997 and 2003. According to DKV, the spectacular location on the river was the starting point of the architectural plan for the project.
The high-rise towers, which are oriented toward the sun and the course of the river, seem to float above the peripheral construction, offering a playful yet brilliantly designed homage to the way children tend to construct with their building bricks and other such toys. DKV says the high-rise blocks accommodate two or three apartments on each story, and a three-and-a-half story entrance hall in each tower faces the central square of the complex. These apartments have a fixed core and a flexible layout; two-floor apartments occupy the top of the stories of the buildings. All apartments are equipped with ‘exterior’ areas with windows that can be folded back along the entire width, offering a spectacular view out across the river.
According to DKV, the pallet of materials used in the entire complex was limited. The basic image-carrier of the complex, the firm says, is the red-brown brick, glued in order to reinforce the intensity of the color. Supplementary materials are wood for the square and the staggered vertical windows in the high-rises, metal in the extended facade openings and the walkway on the square, and glass for the high-rise façades facing the water, where conservatories form a single, large surface.
The architecture and the materials emphasize the uniformity of the urban ensemble, DKV reports.
Other aspects of the complex: A slightly elevated public square above a subterranean car park; and the most important street in the quarter has been extended, in the form of a monumental staircase, across the square and ending in a belvedere on the river.
It would seem that the 2e Katendrechtse Haven apartment buildings provide an idyllic setting in which to live. Residents are surrounded by nature and can, in fact, invite nature into their homes via the large glass façades. This is definitely not your average apartment building, but the Dutch probably wouldn’t have it any other way.