Architecture – Built in 1923, The Fenix warehouse was once the largest warehouse in the world. Its location on the Katendrecht Peninsula in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, has been an important port of immigration in European history. From here, many left in search of a brighter future on the other side of the Atlantic.
Commissioned by Droom en Daad (Dream and Do) Foundation, the renovation of the warehouse and the new Fenix Museum of Migration by Chinese architecture practice MAD Architects connects the Dutch city’s past with the present, inspiring people through the universal theme of “migration.”
“We have designed a 360-degree panoramic viewing platform on top of the warehouse as well as a staircase and ramp that connects from the ground floor to the rooftop observation deck.” Says MAD’s founder Ma Yansong. The futuristic, organic and sinuous design dialogues with Rotterdam’s rough and heavy industrial skyline.
“From a distance, the platform and staircase look like a single entity, but when it’s in front of you, it stands as a sculptural work that invites you to explore.”“It both signifies the Fenix’s witnessing of Europe’s history of migration from the port, and symbolizes the future of the city.”
The 13.200 sqm intervention sees two spiral staircases extend from the ground and form an observation deck at the top. Moving through the space with different rhythms, the staircases break down the massive scale of the original warehouse, adding more human-scale and intimate spaces.
The stainless steel and wood materials used for the staircases contrast with the warehouse’s original concrete and steel materials, while also evoking the visitors’ imagination of boarding a ship.
The FENIX Museum of Migration is also integrated into the surrounding community with a high degree of accessibility, with public entrances from both the riverside and the city. The ground floor combines creativity, culture, and culinary spaces to offer diverse activities, and to make art a part of people’s daily lives. After its completion, the museum will hold an exhibition on the theme of “movement,” with contemporary artworks and archives curated in collaboration with local and international art institutions.
All images: courtesy of MAD Architects.
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