Cardboard and Styrofoam in the Old Post Office

The old main post office on Coolsingel avenue: it’s a place I visited quite often when I had just moved to Rotterdam. In those days you sometimes needed a stamp to send a letter or postcard. The waiting time in front of the counter was made pleasant by the beautiful space you were in: a large hall with the parabolic concrete arches, skylights and relief tiles.

Redevelopment

The post office closed its doors in 2007 and since then the hall hasn’t been accessible except in rare occasions. The building, a national monument, was in decay for over a decade but now there finally is a plan for redevelopment, designed by the American architects office ODA. There will be shops, restaurants and a hotel in the building itself; a tower with apartments will be built on the expedition court at the rear of the block.

A tower on a monumental building, that has been done before in Rotterdam. On the neighbors, the Exchange building, the green WTC tower was constructed in the 1980s. And more recently the Karel Doorman residential building was placed on the former Ter Meulen department store

Prior to the major renovation, the hall is once again open to the public within the framework of the Rotterdam Architecture Month.

Image of the large hall of the Post Office on Coolsingel in Rotterdam, when it was op en to the public during the Rotterdam Architecture Month in 2019
The Hall with its parabolic arches

Tower

Besides marble, concrete and natural stone, there is also a lot of styrofoam, cardboard and paper to be admired because the building is full of models and drawings of construction projects that will be carried out in the coming years.

Of course this also includes the model of the post office itself with the vertical addition.

A visitor makes a photo of the cardboard model of the project for the Post Office at Coolsingel in Rotterdam, at an exhibition in that same Post Office
The Post Office plus tower

Projects

Another showpiece that gets a lot of attention is the model of the entire city center, which shows how much the skyline will change in the coming years. Experience has taught us that half of all those projects will be cancelled or postponed due to financial crises or lengthy objection procedures. But even then a lot is about to happen.

Top view of the model of new construction projects in downtown Rotterdam, in the hall of the Coolsingel Post Office
Top view of the city center

Blocks

For example, a completely new waterfront will appear at Boompjes on the bank of the river Nieuwe Maas. One can observe a trend here, which in the distant future will enable people to flawlessly date buildings to late tens / early twenties: the block tower. Rem Koolhaas started stacking building volumes decades ago, which resulted in De Rotterdam building. Currently there are at least five of those types of towers planned.

Part of the model with new projects in Rotterdam city center, including the Boompjes waterfront redevelopment
Boompjes waterfront

Park

I welcome them all and look forward to photographing all those new marvels in five years’ time. But there is one project that I am not enthusiastic about: the development of Park Quay around the Euromast.

The design is by the same architects as nearby Little C on Coolhaven. That is a great project, but it is in an area that has been an annoying wasteland for years. The green strip at Park Quay, however, has been part of The Park for decades. And if you keep eating away slices of parks every now and then, you’ll end up with nothing. So lets not do it.

Part of a styrofoam model of the Rotterdam city center, with proposed housing blocks around the Euromast in The Park
Building in The Park: don’t do it.

’22

The post office can be visited free of charge on Saturdays, Sundays until 16 June 2019 as well as on Whitmonday. And, if all goes well, daily from somewhere in 2022.

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