The Fenix passage
The Fenix passage is a new inner street, 40 meters long, that runs right through the building and connects the city side (Veerlaan) with the quay. This street is perhaps one of the most exciting spaces in Fenix, which best expresses the energy and kinetic intensity of the building’s past and present and exposes the different layers of time.
From the passage, the residents reach the secure and transparent entrance to the Fenix lofts. By means of four glass elevators, the residents are led through the roof of the warehouse to the inner area, which is characterized by light, greenery and transparency and forms a strong contrast with the strong industrial structures of the dockyard.
The dynamics of Fenix become visible and tangible through the many lines of sight that bring the different functions and activities together in the Fenix. Through huge glass fronts, people who pass by are offered a view of the 12-meter high practice and trapeze room of the Codarts Circus School. On the opposite side the passage offers a glimpse into the public parking garage. Through the glass skylight of the passage one can look upwards and a connection is made with the inner garden and green galleries of the Fenixlofts.
The inner area of the closed building block contrasts with the surroundings and is an oasis of tranquility. A deliberate choice was made to open up the gallery to stimulate contact between residents. The tranquility is emphasized by the gallery in white concrete, combined with a warm wooden facade, which changes from dark on the top, to light on the bottom floors. The design of the railings incorporates flower boxes as an integral part, from which climbing plants grow along the galleries.
The residential volume on top of the warehouse comprises 212 lofts. In the interlayer, these apartments have a clear height of 4m. The impressive space frame structure of the steel table construction is unmistakably part of the apartment. The lofts in the interlayer have a harmonica facade on the Rijnhaven side and a private outdoor space opening out onto the courtyard area.
The first three floors in the concrete volume above comprise about 80 rental apartments, with limited variation. The floors above that contain approximately 130 lofts, with a high degree of flexibility in size and lay-out. In order to realize this, the initial design phase included detailed research into the placement of shafts and meter cupboards. Therefor the floors of each apartment were individually prepared for construction with piping and armouring. The apartments vary in size from 40 to 300 m2 and all 130 lofts are unique. In order to optimise flexibility, the apartments have a ceiling height of 2.7m, and in the penthouses the ceilings are 3m high. All the apartments, also the rental homes, have large sliding doors and spacious, 2.5 m deep balconies with a glass balustrade, to make the most of the exceptional location and fantastic views. On the short side of the building block, where the building volume has stepped roofs, the penthouses also have spacious roof terraces. Mei architects has advised on the interior design for about 50 lofts, and about 50% of all loft owners chose to retain the brute concrete finish on the ceilings and columns resulting from the tunnel construction and formwork systems.
The distinctive architecture as well as the exceptional residential product offered by Fenix I attracts residents and users with a similar mindset. This means that, even in a building combining rental and owner-occupied apartments, the gallery is open and contributes to the quality of living. The residents of Fenix form an inclusive community, where people live together and share their lives.
The existing warehouse, Fenix Docks, has a mixed-use purpose. Part of the warehouse was rebuilt to provide for an efficient public parking garage with 270 parking spaces. Along the quay, there are 5 quay houses, each with 2 floors with a height of 6m. These apartments have a free lay-out, are fitted with original loading doors and can be accessed directly from the Rijnhaven quay.
In addition, Fenix Docks offers room to three well-known cultural institutions, which together form the Culture Cluster: Conny Janssen Danst, Codarts Circus School and youth Circus Rotjeknor. Mei played a key role in mediating between the municipality of Rotterdam and these organisations, that are each active in (one of) the 3 Cs (culinary, creative and cultural). Mei developed inventive solutions to fit the various required spaces into the existing warehouse structure. The required column-free spaces, the requested free height for the training rooms, and the shared communal areas made this spatial integration a complex challenge.
The result is a smart design with both communal and private spaces. Spontaneous meetings between the various organisations and users take place at various places, but there is also sufficient privacy. The foyer is such a communal meeting place, with a glass wall that provides a glimpse into the Codarts training room. The foyer is accessible from the Fenixplein on the south side of the building and gives access to the ‘docks’ and the ‘arts’ parts of the Culture Cluster.
The programming of various companies on the quay of the Rijnhaven and the Veerlaan side, such as West 8 and the Fenix Food Factory, gives the building an active base. Along the quay, Fenix Docks accommodates various catering companies, including the Fenix Food Factory, which enhances the vibrant and public character of the quayside.
In order to make both sides of the building easily accessible, Mei designed a passageway that runs straight through the building from the Veerlaan side to the Rijnhaven side. During the day, this passage is open to the public. Residents of the lofts above have access to their home via an entrance hall in the passageway. Glass walls in the passageway offer residents and visitors a glimpse into the Culture Cluster.