On a prominent location in Rotterdam, at the Weena opposite the new Central Station, the office building First arises, adding a new accent to the city’s spectacular skyline. The site borders onto the Central Business District as well as the 19th century residential neighborhoods of the ‘Old West’. The complex comprises a rectangular base block (35 metres high) and a tower of 130 metres. The lower two layers are accentuated as a transparent plinth taken up by inviting entrance lobbies and public functions, such as a restaurant and an art gallery. Continuing this plinth on the east side, a fully glazed conservatory connects to the existing buildings. This serves both as a windbreak and as a transparent entrance to the court at the back of the building which is laid out as a city garden.
The design of the office floors is characterized by its open and flexible layout. This is made possible by limiting the construction to the central cores and the load-bearing exterior walls. Large floor areas (12 metres deep) are thus kept free of structural elements and provide open-plan areas. Between the two slabs of the tower, the central area around the lifts has an open set-up. Right at this intensively used point in the tower, the views are kept uninterrupted to two sides, creating an attractive space for informal meeting and relaxation. Having higher ceilings, the top floors of the tower breathe a more exclusive character; here are reception areas, conference center, restaurant and bar with outdoor serving. In the base building a large covered atrium is cut out of the block. This is first and foremost intended to ensure sufficient daylight in the middle of the deep office floors. But at the same time the atrium with its stepped landscaped terraces provides a spatially binding element that lends openness and identity to this part of the complex. Similarly, the office building presents itself to the city by means of large voids behind high ‘urban windows’ at the busy Weena thoroughfare.
The detailing and materialization of the façades refer to the architecture of the historic post-war Groothandelsgebouw (Wholesale Building) across the street. The prefab wall elements are clad with natural stone and concrete composite. The facade of the tower is characterized by high vertical windows lying deep between the slender stone ribs. By cutting these ribs at a slight angle a subtle distinction between different sides of the tower is created, changing dependent on the direction from which one sees the façade. The project is designed entirety according to the latest available sustainability insights and techniques and, when completed, will be certified BREEAM ‘Excellent’