renovation of world famous reconstruction monument
Mei architects and planners won the architect selection in 2014 for the renewal of De Lijnbaan. De Lijnbaan is world famous as the first car free shopping promenade, designed in the Rotterdam reconstruction period by Van den Broek & Bakema. De Lijnbaan was designed as an exclusive shopping area with 70 luxury shops. In 2010, De Lijnbaan ensemble was designated as a national monument. Mei architects and planners is very proud to be able to renovate this symbol of reconstruction and to restore the original high quality and 50s look in approximately 800 meters of Lijnbaan shopping promenade. De Lijnbaan will again be an area for shopping and staying. The renovation started in May 2018.
The canopies that interconnect the shop premises are the most characteristic part of the design for De Lijnbaan by the architects Van den Broek & Bakema. Together with the ‘crossing canopies’ they connect the shopping area and frame the public space, creating a pleasant outdoor space, like a living room in the city. Ever since its construction in 1953, more and more has changed and the unity in the ensemble has disappeared. With the design of Mei architects and planners, the living room feeling will return on De Lijnbaan. Elements that have been added in a later stadium are being removed, the old canopies will be restored and with the use of wood and warm materials, the original quality will return. Mei has already successfully renovated several retail properties on De Lijnbaan, such as Lijnbaan 102 and Lijnbaan 77, on the corner with the Aert van Nesstraat. By using natural materials, ‘warm’ concrete and a lot of glass, Mei has beautifully restored the original character of the high-quality post-war architecture of these stores.
Renovation in detail
Mei started the design process with extensive research and mapping all existing façades. At some buildings, the original wooden ceiling parts were still present. They have been restored and will not be replaced. The attentive passerby will be able to notice the differences between the cherished monumental wooden parts and the new wooden parts.
The glass canopies that were added around 1996 will be removed during this renovation. The original canopies are being repaired and the ceilings and fronts will be covered with sustainable Accoya wood. To limit the inconvenience for the shopkeepers, the wood is applied as prefabricated panels. The low-maintenance coating has already been applied in the carpentry factory.
The storey façades, designed on a characteristic fixed grid of 1.10 meters, are also being renewed. Here, the existing vertical concrete elements are cleaned and restored, and those who are missing are returned. For this purpose, a special ‘set-up’ element has been developed from composite concrete. The cladding between the elements can vary, as in the original design.
The niche between canopies and the continuous façade beam at the level of the first floor is also an important element in the design of De Lijnbaan. The concrete façade beam is restored by cleaning it, removing paint and repairing concrete damage. The niche is also carefully repaired over the entire length and provided with gauze as pigeon protection to prevent pollution in the future.
The plans for the renovation have been realized in close collaboration with the property owners, retailers, municipality, contractor, the Council for Cultural Heritage and the Rotterdam Commission for Monuments. Under the supervision of Mei, a mock-up was built in spring 2018 at the corner building Lijnbaan 76 and the adjacent building Lijnbaan 78. At this test location, a renovated canopy (Lijnbaan 76) and an original canopy with monumental elements (Lijnbaan 78) came together. In the mock-up, the detailing of the roof edge and the wooden canopy covering has been extensively tested and evaluated. After approval of all those involved, all façades between the Aert van Nesstraat and Van Oldenbarneveldtplaats could then be installed one after another.
(Photos: Bert Rietberg, Ossip van Duivenbode, Jeroen Musch)