Rotterdam Court Information Centre, Building, Project, Photo, Design Images

Rotterdam Court Information Centre

Rotterdam Court Development design by Atelier Kempe Thill, The Netherlands

26 Aug 2009

Rotterdam Court Building

A Big Piece of Furniture

Information center of the Rotterdam Court, The Netherlands

Design: Atelier Kempe Thill

A new face for the Rotterdam Court

The Rotterdam Court is forerunner in the Netherlands concerning the introduction of “Mediation” as an alternative form of settling conflicts. To give this role a visible form it had been decided to erect an own building for this purpose. Next to mediation the function of the information center had to find a place here as well. The building becomes by that also the official mouthpiece of the court – a center for all people who want to get informed about juridical questions.

Rotterdam Court Information Centre Building

The urban situation where the new building has to be fit in is the “Galeria”, an in-between space within the Rotterdam Court complex covered by a glass roof. The situation with a width of only 17 m is spatially quite narrow for a building and the obligations to keep a generous public route to the entrance of the subway and to avoid any backside.

For that reasons the expectations on the appearance of the new building are rather high. A transparent, inviting reception building is needed that communicates with its architecture the new ideas and at the same time a seriousness that fits to the court as an institution.

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A house as furniture
To fulfill the demands of the city and of the court an entirely transparent building with low interior elements was taken as a start. The depth of the building was limited up to six meters to not disturb the Galeria in the long direction.

First of all the architectural question arises how a building must look like that should unfold such a wished great effect on the public but in its sheer size is rather small. To find an adequate solution on this the new information center was interpreted conceptually less as a small building but rather as a big furniture – not least because of its object – like position in the dominant interior of the Galeria.

This results firstly in the set – up of the few architectural elements in an as large as possible scale. By that the building reaches unless its small size an adequate degree of monumentality. Secondly was striven for an unusual precision for detailing and materialization.

The smaller the building the more the architect is forced to reach the exactness of a watchmaker. Thirdly a maximum of integration of installations into construction was intended. Due to the entire transparency there are nearly nowhere informal zones where installations or constructions are “out of sight”. Nearly everything had to be worked out as visible elements perfectly given form up to the last detail.

A public interior

Due to the conceptual approach the interior becomes integrated part of the façade and by that of the appearance of the entire building. Interior and exterior become an entity and have to be designed as a “Gesamtkunstwerk”. To reach a highly coherent appearance the interior was set up basically in the same color. Because the Galeria is fairly dark due to the surrounding façades it was decided to balance this by giving the building a light color.

Therefore the color white was used consequently for nearly all parts. To emphasize the bright interior the desk was produced out of massive polyester plates that are illuminated from the back. The roof is made out of translucent polycarbonate and shines because of the sunlight and the lamps that are put behind. To even emphasize the transparency even more bleached glass was used instead of normal float glass to avoid its typical green color. The lantern – like shining of the building also strengthens the wished communicative effect and has by that a positive impact on its use.

To visually close the meeting rooms as well as to protect them from too much sunlight and to improve the acoustic conditions all windows are provided with curtains. To balance the hermetic of the building they give it something soft and comprehensible.

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Large scale elements and reduction of means

The detailing is based on two core strategies, on one hand the use of large scale elements on the other hand the maximum reduction of the used means. The intension is to reach a monumental scale.

To reduce the means it has been tried to reach as much integration between architectural and technical elements as possible. The construction is at the same time window frame and installation canal. The roof functions as acoustic barrier; lamp and cable duct and contains sprinkler installations and sun protection. In the polyester desk – next to TL – lamps, LED displays for the client information system are integrated.

As large – scale elements to define the structure of the building the largest glass panes were used in the size of 6m long and 3,21 m high. To make this possible from the beginning on it had to be clarified if and with which techniques these panes could be brought into the Galeria through its narrow entrance doors. Also the capability of the floor to support the transportation of the 1250 kg elements had to be researched.

The electrical large – scale sliding doors of 2,80 x 3 m are developed for the project. The frames and the fixing details for the glass, as well as the motor, the gear, the cables and the rail system were designed and sampled together especially for that situation. To avoid disturbing drafts an especially designed air curtain was integrated in the floor.

The desk from polyester is set up as long as possible. Within its 17 m length, two necessary doors were integrated invisibly at both ends, also made form polyester.

The new information center presents itself as an auratic but still self – evident object. Within the Galeria it keeps distance and autonomy without to be in competition with the manifold context. Through its appearance it makes an inviting gesture to the other more distanced buildings of the Rotterdam court.

Information Center of the Rotterdam Court – Building Information

Site: Rotterdam – Kop van Zuid

Address: Rechtbank Rotterdam, Wilhelminaplein 100, 3072 AK Rotterdam

Architects: Atelier Kempe Thill architects and planners, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Client: VROM Rijksgebouwendienst (Building service Dutch Government)
Branch / Vestiging Den Haag
Postbus 20951
2500 EZ Den Haag
Visiting address:
Rijnstraat 8
2515 XP Den Haag

Commission: Jul 2005
Planning process: Aug 2005 – Jun 2007
Building process: Jul 2007 – May 2008

Building size: 215m2 brutto, 208m2 netto
Building volume: 700m3

Total building budget: € 1,30 mio. (excl. VAT) – incl. technical installations
Building budget in groups:
Building: € 0,82 mio. (excl. VAT)
Installations: € 0,48 mio. (excl. VAT)
Budget per m2 excl. installation: € 3.813 /m2 (excl. VAT)
Budget per m2 incl. installation: € 6.032 /m2 (excl. VAT)


Team planning and realisation:

Architect: Atelier Kempe Thill architect and planners, Rotterdam (NL)
Team Atelier Kempe Thill: André Kempe, Oliver Thill, Teun van der Meulen
David van Eck, Takashi Nakamura, Peter Graf, Andris Rubenis, Kingman Brewster
Artist Plastic counter: Vincent de Rijk, Rotterdam


Building Physics: DGMR Arnhem + Rijksgebouwendient, Advies & Architecten
Structural Engineer: Rijksgebouwendient, Advies & Architecten
Service Engineer Electrical & Climate Installations: Rijksgebouwendient, Advies & Architecten
Quantity Surveyor: Rijksgebouwendient, Advies & Architecten
Tender documents: Adviesbureau Both, Haarlem
Supervision building site: Centraal Bureau Bouwtoezicht (CBB), Arnhem

General Contractor: Bouwbureau en Aannemingsbedrijf De Wilde bv, Waddinxveen

Photographer/Copyright holder: Architektur-Fotografie Ulrich Schwarz
Ulrich Schwarz, Kreuzbergstrasse 27-28, D-10965 Berlin Tel. +49-(0)30-4278708

Rotterdam Court Information Centre images / information from Atelier Kempe Thill

Atelier Kempe Thill

Location: Rechtbank Rotterdam, Wilhelminaplein 100, 3072 AK Rotterdam, The Netherlands

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