In Rotterdam they have built a wonderful repository of works of art, which has, as its main characteristics, its modern appearance and being the first with this visitable function.
Art is that invisible thread that unites people. To all, regardless of their physical or mental condition, their aesthetic appearance, their sexual orientation, the faith they profess (or lack thereof), of course, their economic status. So much so that even ideological orientation takes a second or third place when people contemplate a work. Such is its power, that of art, that no one escapes its hypnotic domain.
Am I exaggerating? Maybe a little, but not too much. Proof of this is that since the beginning of humanity, artists have always been creating unique works. So many that the museums of the world cannot cope. In Rotterdam, one of the most important European museums, the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, had to build a new (flowerpot-shaped) repository for unexposed works of art, and came up with a brilliant idea: Make the art repository visitable.
More than 150,000 works of art
And a visitable art warehouse could not be just any warehouse, it had to have endless considerations. So the promoters bet on the creativity of the MVRDV architects (whom we already know) and put them in their hands. Nothing more and nothing less than 94 million euros for the construction of the first art repository open to the public. The building was inaugurated on November 5, 2021 by King Willem-Alexander and is undoubtedly a work of art in itself.
The 15,000 square meters of the building are distributed in showrooms, offices, retail stores, a roof garden, a bar-restaurant and, obviously, a huge amount of storage space for art and design. So much so that they house up to 151,000 objects inside, of which, according to the museum, about 88,000 are engravings and drawings.
The flowerpot museum overlooking Rotterdam
Its almost spherical envelope, whose most exact definition would be an ovoid tank, makes it a kind of almost immaterial pot or container due to a surface completely covered with mirrors. Mirrors that hide a rigid body, made of reinforced concrete, robust enough to guarantee the care of their valuable contents, at the same time that they serve as a temperature regulator.
The height of the building is 39.5 meters, with a lower diameter of 40 meters and an upper diameter of 60. The outer skin has a surface of 6,609 square meters, covered by 1,664 mirrors, which makes mental spatial calculation difficult, but, Even better, being surrounded by trees this space pretends to be even more open and larger than it really is, in addition, many panels were «adopted» by citizens, donating 1,000 euros for each one.
Stairs with glass railings lead visitors to the exhibition rooms, allowing them to discover up to thirteen transparent display cases that reveal some art objects. The stairs also lead to the magnificent deck, where we can discover unprecedented views of the city and another quite generous garden, as well as a restaurant… What better place to have a drink while you reflect on what you have visited?
Rotterdam’s sustainable, pot-shaped non-museum
The promoters say that the entire collection can be discovered or visited, which means that to see some things you will have to notify in advance. Climate control is very important in this place, having designed for better conservation up to five different climate zones depending on the raw material of the works: metal, plastic, organic/inorganic, black and white and color photography.
Of course, one of the key pieces of the design is sustainability, or improving efficiency. This building uses geothermal energy, electrical supply from solar panels, LED lighting (always LED), and thermal insulation. high performance capable of effectively protecting the building from external thermal variations, thereby reducing energy demand.
Using water from the Rotterdam pot
But there is more. The collected rainwater is deposited in the basement and is used for sanitary installations and for watering trees and flora. Completing the circle, several contemporary artists such as John Körmeling and Marieke van Diemen took part in the decoration of the building. These contributed to the design of the entrance and atrium, Concrete who designed the rooftop restaurant and Pipilotti Rist who contributed a work in the park.
Finally, we must always thank different collaborating companies for their work. This is the case of the contracted BAM Bouw at Techniek; the engineers who developed the structure of the building, unique as it alone, who are called IMd Raadgevend Ingenieurs; installation specialists, responsible, for example, for energy efficiency, whose company is called RHDHV; and last but not least, the landscape design team, represented in the company of MTD Landschap architecten.
Undoubtedly, in Rotterdam they know very well what it is to create a good cultural space, capable of attracting generations of artists, of all kinds, gender, race, religion and ideology. I hope this unifying effort does not let you see what is really important: a wonderful, almost immaterial building, shaped like a flowerpot!! 😉