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HAKA Gebouw, Back to the Future

Rotterdam, the Netherlands


Project Description: Spring Semester, Year 1, MSc in Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences.

Date: 01 July 2018

Project Location: Vierhavensstraat 38-40, 3029 BE, Rotterdam

Studio: Heritage and Architecture MSc 2, 2018

Tutors: Lidy Meijers (Tutor) 


In the surrounding environment there is already a growing interest regarding urban agriculture, with green houses and garden established in various different spots. The idea is that by recreating a Research and Education Centre around this areas, people can be better informed about the latest technological improvements, but most importantly in terms of alternative ways to produce food such as Aquaponics, Hydroponics, (soil-less agriculture) as well as innovative techniques to produces substitutes of meat and other animal exploitation-related chains such as eggs etc.

With the educational department and specifically designed workshops, seminars and talks the impact can be more than the revitalization of an national monument and it can influence positively the whole society and way of living in Rotterdam and Schiedam. ​The aim of this project was to introduce the Haka building with a new programme which is related to the building’s long history and character. This entails the introduction of aquaculture and hydroculture systems, office spaces as well as laboratory facilities. The education department includes various different spaces from culinary workshops to flexible lecture rooms that can be used for other events as well. The top floors are left for exhibition spaces and restaurants so as to allow people to enjoy the great view towards the city and the harbour of Rotterdam while the ground floor is left for creative businesses and meeting places. The Haka building was always interpreted as a machined, for various and different reasons. In this attempt to provide the building with an alternative programme and by underlining and enhancing its connection to the production and distribution of food, the idea is to convert into a living machine through the urban Farm/Argriculture Concept. 

In terms of the architectural interventions, great attention was given to Suzanne Fischer’s historical assessment and it was translated into minimal interventions so as to “unlock” the most valuable architectural qualities of the existing building and thus expose its history to the people. The educational sector thus becomes a “route architecturel” that allows both vertical and horizontal movement to the public, revealing both the existing historical layer and the new layer in terms of the programme. Sustainability as well as circularity were principles to be given great attention throughout the design so as to allow the possibility to solve multiple problems simultaneously without compromising the future adaptation of the building into something else. The new materiality, forms and structures were aiming at complimenting the existing building and its character rather than dominating the scenery.

Please click on the thumbnails below to view the rest of the project.

HAKA Gebouw - H.F. Mertens

Existing Situation 2018