The Merwe-vierhavens area located in Rotterdam-West was once a bustling part of the Port of Rotterdam. Since most of the port activities have moved outside of the city to the new man-made islands, the old port areas are losing their function and becoming neglected. Finding a new function for the Katoenveem has thus a twofold purpose: in itself it is necessary to preserve this piece of industrial heritage, but also as part of a larger transformation of the neighborhood it becomes a key part of revitalizing the area. In keeping with this transformation of the neighborhood to a more recreational and residential area, the building should hold a function which attracts visitors from outside the area.
The building itself is a large cotton warehouse, compartmentalized to prevent the spread of fires which were a threat with the storage of such a flammable material. The warehouse consists of one floor, with a catwalk running around the perimeter and through the middle. A cable system hangs from the roof in order to move the cotton bales. These large open spaces combined with the catwalks create an ideal exposition space, with vertical and horizontal sight lines. In the central compartment a steel structure creates a restaurant and houses the vertical access to the new hotel and meeting center suspended above the original building. The building is separated into climate zones, with only the central compartment and new addition being fully climatized. The construction and appearance of the new addition refers to industrial heritage of the area, inspired by the “havenkraan.”