Our client EDGE Technologies was determined to save the beautiful Las Palmas building on Rotterdam’s booming Wilhelmina Pier, after it had been vacant for years and about to be demolished. The building was originally designed in the 1950s as the workshop space for the ships of Holland America Line, once the main transit connection between New York and the Netherlands. We revived this architectural heritage and gave it a second life as a multi-functional building where a unique mix of cultural and commercial functions now generates a vibrant, contemporary atmosphere on a location that is steeped in history.
Las Palmas is located at the very centre of the Wilhelmina Pier, and stands as a relatively modest volume between the high-rise projects of Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster and Renzo Piano. It is however not the impressive height or volume that makes this project remarkable, but the highly original and inventive way in which the building was expanded: by placing a smooth, elliptical and very contemporary looking volume right on top of the original workshops. It rests on slender columns, seems to float in the air, and provides its users with a magnificent view.
Las Palmas now houses a variety of happy tenants: the Dutch National Museum of Photography, a municipal training centre for new media, a large events hall, office spaces and a high end restaurant. The design masterfully shows how a thoughtful but daring renovation and expansion can turn a neglected building into an attractive and financially sound project that attracts investors and invigorates the community.