Broekbakema designed the characteristic shore radar stations, over 30 in total, in the 1980s. Owing to their uniform shape, material and colours the stations, which were built according to a construction kit concept, form a series of familiar beacons visible from land and sea. Situated at the head of a harbour pier, the Rotterdam Traffic Control Centre overlooks the Oude Maas, the Nieuwe Waterweg and the Botlekhaven.
The existing space was unsuitable for the new function, both in terms of size and the required flexibility. However, the tower was to be kept in the design and the traffic controllers were to have an unobstructed view from the extension in virtually every direction, so in front of the tower as well. High requirements were also imposed on ease of visibility and the prevention of reflections. Built from concrete discs interspaced with box-shaped volumes, the existing tower supports two compact observation towers with an expressive facade and roof shape. A radio mast tops the entire structure, lending the somewhat stocky tower an element of slenderness. Colour choices for the metal sheeting of the boxes are light and dark grey with a yellow accent at the observation towers. The vertical stability cores with staircase and lift are dark blue.
Two slim horizontal ‘discs’ form the roof and floor of the extension, with a slanting glass facade sandwiched in between them. It is a receded facade and constructed with structural glazing rather than the use of metal profiles. This discoid aspect sets the extension apart from the slightly box-like appearance of the existing structure. While the existing column stands solidly on the ground, the new construction appears to float. The floating appearance is achieved by the extremely slender support structure, four pairs of V-shaped columns, which is somewhat drawn away from the facade.
To blend in with the grey hues of the existing building, the new facade sheets are light grey. The V-shaped columns rest on anthracite-coloured concrete discs that match the basalt lining of the dike body. Subtle contrasts allow the new to respect the old and bring the two together. These aspects create a whole that serves as a familiar beacon of safety for maritime shipping.Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Architect: Broekbakema Project name: Rotterdam Traffic Control Centre Category: Transport
Award: World Architecture Festival 2011 – Shortlisted Photograph by: Hans Diepenhorst