TEXT: TANYA VAN DER SPEK | PHOTOGRAPHY: ANTIM
Who’s up to the task? A new tower to be developed at the Delftseplein. The entrance to the city, directly next to the public transportation terminal of international eyecatcher, Rotterdam Central Station. The municipality was pleased to receive applications from several parties who don’t back down from a challenge.
In February, the municipality announced its tender: a competition resulting in the sale of the location. The party with the best idea and offer for the municipal land wins the rights to build the tower. A tower no more than 140 meters tall – somewhat shorter than the Nationale-Nederlanden office building, Delftse Poort – with homes, offices and possibly a hotel. Important for the municipality is that the ground floor has an open character, with facilities like a bar or restaurant. Rob Out, project manager Delftseplein, admits that he was feeling the pressure. “Like when you organize a party, you hope enough guests will come – and the right kind of guests.” Fortunately, the invitation was well-received. The number of responses from project developers, with architects, urban planners and landscape designers on board, has reached double digits. “And not just any developers, but well-known parties that understand what we are doing here.” In fact, there are applications for which Rob Out can’t wait to see the sketches.
During the first phase, tenderers only need to submit their vision, not a design or offer. “The weeks of work and sky-high costs to do that would scare off applicants.” Parties do need to show financial stability and a track record of relevant projects. “After all, it’s a very demanding project. As an inner-city location, you can’t simply close off the area during construction. It is literally next to the train tracks, where also international trains operate. Should something go wrong, the consequences are far-reaching.” Furthermore, the location entails a high level of architectural ambition and difficulty. The building must be in line with the design of the station building and, at the same time, not overshadow the station’s striking main entrance.
The building must, of course, be sustainable in terms of energy, water management and mobility. “Excessive parking facilities is also a thing of the past.” So, it’s quite handy to have the trains within walking distance. When the vision phase closes in June, the municipality will proceed with about three parties. “Next follows an intense process of sketching, calculation and feedback. We hope to sign the final development contract in November and construction can begin 18 to 24 months after that.” Twelve years ago, Rob Out referred to the promise of Delftseplein as low-hanging fruit. “I can only assume the fruit is now ripe and sweet. Together with the city, we look forward to the harvest!”