When the two companies Pakhoed and Van Ommeren merged in 1999, they continued under the name Vopak. Van Ommeren’s original office, beautifully located at the Westerlaan in Rotterdam, became the new company’s headquarters. The complex, however, was far too big and in dire need of an upgrade. This gave rise to the opportunity to redevelop the building into a combination of offices and apartments.
Client Vopak, Maarsen Group, Brouwershoff Beheer
Status Completed 2012
The low-rise wing on the corner of the Westerlaan and Westerkade was tackled first. On top of the existing basement an entire new wing with an additional 6th floor was created. Vopak took residence on one of these floors, the top one. The building used the river’s relatively stable temperature to cool and heat the offices, making it one if the first projects in The Netherlands to take this highly sustainable approach.
In order to provide for sufficient parking, the second phase of the renovation consisted of creating an underground parking garage across from the Westerlaan, underneath the park. This was a rather sensitive process as the park was designed by famed landscape architect Zocher and deemed a national monument (Rijksmonument).
After a complicated but successful execution process that included underwater concrete and the supply and disposal of materials via the river Maas, the park is now bigger than it ever was. Three unique glass pavilions are the only visual clues to the presence of an underground parking garage.
The former high-rise was completely stripped. The structure’s load bearing over-capacity, created by the presence of a helicopter platform that according to legend was only used once during the opening ceremony, was used to add five floors using a lightweight steel frame. All the way at the top, a copper clad dome hides the necessary (maintenance) installations. Black and white ceramic tiles give the building a recognizable aesthetic that harmonizes beautifully with the green park next door.
Roughly the entire lower half of the building was given a new office function, while the top floors house apartments with beautiful high ceilings. The residential floors can easily be identified by the steel frame which supports double-heighted balconies. The spectacular views of the city, the river Maas and the park make these apartments still the most sought after in Rotterdam.