The municipality of Rotterdam run a competition for architects and designers in early 2017, in order to collect innovative approaches for the transformation of empty shops into houses. Among 86 submissions, ours was one of the 5 selected! For us, the empty shops were not a waste. They are an opportunity to turn them into something new and creative; not only for its new residents, but also for the whole neighbourghood. Here is our approach.

program | Adaptive reuse of empty shops into housing

info | 2017, Rotterdam, NL

type | Winning competition entry in collaboration with Architects for Urbanity, Rotterdam

role | Project architect

responsibilities | Concept development, 3d & 2d illustrations, physical modelling, communication

client | Rotterdam municipality

read more Gemeente Rotterdam/Woonlab010 | De Architect

wonen in winkels page 3Matching target groups with available building stock

Rotterdam changes constantly in regard to needs, people and buildings. But demolition is not always the best option for empty spaces. Reuse can bring more quality, sustainability, affordability and social impact. This is the case of the 14 pilot shops that are structurally empty in residential neighbourhoods of Rotterdam. We believe that it is the residents that actually give Rotterdam its identity: young entrepreneurs live and work in the centre or begin their start-ups here. Internationals want to live longer in Rotterdam and the neighbourhoods of Noord, Delfshaven, Feijenoord and Charlois have a strong multicultural identity. Young families want to buy in a normal price and like to renovate their house according to their taste. Those target groups are the ones that want to inhabit special places. Neigbourhoods that are tolerant, hip and multifunctional can best integrate this new lifestyle.

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The challenges and opportunities of the shops

The 14 pilot shops have special characteristics, but also specific challenges. The sunlight comes in only from two narrow sides, and the height in some cases is too short. There is a wide variety in square meters but only a few have a back garden. The shops will be sold “casco” and therefore there is more flexibility in reuse. The facades are unique and tell the story of the street, but privacy is a crucial challenge.

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The transformation toolkit

Every new owner has its own story. But when designing for more people the price can drop. Therefore, we created a toolkit: standard elements can be combined with specific interventions to create a unique home. People can choose between a “winter garden”, a glass extension at the back, or a prefab kitchen/bath box. Some of those interventions can be the same for several houses, but the end result will always be unique. Our plan is to keep developing those interventions together with the new residents.

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