With works having started on the FENIX Museum of Migration in Rotterdam, MAD Architects’ first cultural project in Europe has taken a huge step towards realization. The project, commissioned by the Droom en Daad Foundation, includes the renovation of the Fenix warehouse, built in 1923, and combines it with an impressive staircase in its centre, rising up to a building-high architectural sculpture.
The location on the Katendrecht Peninsula has been an important port of immigration in European history. Throughout the past century, the Fenix warehouse, which was once the largest warehouse in the world, has been entwined with the history of Rotterdam, including destruction during World War II, and multiple repairs in the 1940s and 1950s. As the architects describe it, the renovation embraces the iconic green steel windows and the concrete structure of the Fenix warehouse. In the building’s center, the facade and roof are removed and replaced with glass curtain walls and ceilings, creating a flexible and accessible space. The new intervention sees two spiral staircases extend from the ground and form an observation deck at the top. MAD: "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 Museum of Migration will be 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.