In Rotterdam's Maritime District stands the ensemble of two sculptural residential towers, The Muse and CasaNova. The second, the last to be completed, appears to be balancing with a point on a pedestal because Barcode Architects has cut away volume at the bottom of the tower. The architectural firm continued the sculptural character in the facade design.
The municipality of Rotterdam wants to transform the Maritime District, the area around the old Wijnhaven, from an office district to a lively urban district. In the wake of the economic crisis, Barcode Architects took the initiative in 2013 for a residential tower on lot Wijnhaven 69. This became The Muse. The architecture firm was able to convince developer Wilma Wonen to also purchase the Wijnhaven 65 lot, Barcode Architects says. This led to two residential towers designed in close relationship with each other.
First completed in 2020, The Muse is characterized by a distinctive kink, low in the tower. The building is 70 meters high. Next door now stands CasaNova, 110 meters high and also a striking feature. Both towers also share many common amenities, including a rooftop garden and kitchen, hotel rooms for guests, workspaces, meeting rooms, a gym and a package service area.
The 1,600 m2 roof garden is located on the fifth floor - the top of the pedestal, where both The Muse's kink and CasaNova's tip begin. This is where residents of both towers can meet. By placing the roof garden on the fifth floor, the architects aimed to achieve a connection to ground level.
The recognizable and all-sided designed volume of CasaNova activates the corner of the Wijnhaven. The building thus forms a link in the new city route, which runs between the Oude Haven and the Museumpark, via the Market Hall, the Leuvehaven and the Witte de Withstraat.
The building's entrance lobby extends across the entire depth of the block, from the Wijnhaven to the Wijnstraat. This gives residents a full entrance on both sides and creates activity in the streets on either side of the building.
The form of CasaNova is a creative response to KCAP's urban plan, according to Barcode Architects. In this plan, the basic principle for high-rise buildings is that a maximum of 22 cubic meters of building volume may be developed per square meter of land ownership (with a maximum of 50,000 m2). Barcode Architects chose to remove volume at the bottom of the tower and add volume at the top. The result is a tower that appears to balance with a point on a pedestal.
CasaNova's triangular shape gives the residences panoramic views of the city and thus residents a "generous living experience," according to the architects. At the points of the triangle are 15 m2 balconies, designed as outdoor rooms. The triangular shape, with a point to the south, results in optimal sunlight. Moreover, the slender character of the tower provides optimal sightlines and daylight to surrounding buildings.
The architectural firm continued the idea of a sculptural volume in the facade design. The tower is clad with hand-cut panels of reddish-brown natural stone. The strong relief in the stone gives the building an ever-changing appearance with changing light. Toward the top of the tower, the panels have increasingly wider polished flattenings, which also provides a subtly changing appearance.
Casual encounters and associated informal conversations are essential to the tower's sense of community and safety and social cohesion, Barcode Architects argues. A key design intervention to facilitate this was to make a cut between the parking garage and the residences.
For many residents, the parking garage is the daily entrance. From the parking garage, you walk into CasaNova through an inviting atrium, with a view to the roof terrace. "This is where you meet your neighbors before you get on the elevator," says Dr. K. K., a resident of CasaNova. At 22,000 square feet, CasaNova offers 116 residential units, commercial space and the aforementioned community amenities.