Over the years, Rotterdam’s Rijnhaven has flourished, transforming from a desolate waterfront into a trendy site, a playground for culinary, creative, and cultural ventures. This transformation began in 2007, when the city of Rotterdam started to promote the rehabilitation of the Katendrecht district. With the repurposing of Fenix I, Mei has developed a smart plan that will create a unique and more permanent setting for recreation and creative endeavour.
This smart plan will come to light in the lower section of the “San Francisco” warehouse. This part of the building will be called Fenix Docks. An ‘active plinth’ along the Rijnhavenkade waterfront and part of the Veerlaan side will be comprised of several enterprises active in the 3 C’s (culinary, creative, and cultural ventures). The Fenix Food Factory is one such venture that will move into this complex.
To provide visitors with easy access to both sides of the old warehouse, a passageway will be created between the Veerlaan and Rijnhavenkade. During the day, the passage will be accessible to the public. Residents of the upper lofts will be able to access Fenix Lofts through a private hallway from the passage.
The complex will also accommodate a Culture Cluster. Mei has spearheaded a collaboration between three leading cultural organizations in Rotterdam: Conny Janssen Danst, Codarts and Rotjeknor. Each will have separate practice and training spaces inside the complex. The old warehouse has spectacular potential as well as amazing views of the Rotterdam skyline.
As a key player in the unfolding of the Culture Cluster, Mei has devised complex technical solutions to various challenges the building holds. The division of the existing warehouse space into different areas that fulfil the diverse needs of users proved particularly complicated. Mei had to make sure that all participating organizations will have enough space. One particular difficulty involved the necessity of removing some existing columns while preserving others, and giving the training spaces a suitable height.
The end result is a smart floor plan that contains both shared and private spaces. This will lead to spontaneous encounters between members of all the involved organizations, while also providing them with a sense of privacy and security. One such space for encounter is the shared foyer, accessible from the Dolf Henkes Square on the south side of the warehouse. The foyer provides access to the ‘docks’ section and the ‘arts’ section of the Culture Cluster. From the foyer, members can also take a peek inside the enormous training space of Codarts where acrobats are practicing.
The new design for the Fenix Docks will be lively, creative, and open. Several glass walls will provide with vistas for members. Mei architects and planners will carry through these characteristics in the decoration and furnishing of the spaces.