The Kunsthal Rotterdam is a recognised icon of contemporary architecture. The building was designed in 1992 by Rem Koolhaas, the Netherlands’ foremost architect, and the project architect Fuminori Hoshino of the Rotterdam architectural firm OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture). It was meant to serve as a ‘Palais des Festivals’, a meeting place for arts and culture. The design launched Koolhaas’ international career and is visited every year by many lovers of architecture from around the globe. Together with landscape architect Yves Brunier, OMA is also responsible for redeveloping the Museumpark.
The Kunsthal joined forces with various parties from Rotterdam and elsewhere, such as OMA/Rem Koolhaas and Urban Guides, to establish the Kunsthal building as a valuable architectural icon that equals newer icons such as the Markthal, the Central Station and De Rotterdam building. Existing architectural guided tours of the building and the adjacent Museumpark by Urban Guides as well as a Listen Route (only in Dutch) narrated by Mike Boddé that was launched in 2015, enable the public to find out more about the design of this remarkable park and the architecture of the Kunsthal. In the years ahead the Kunsthal plans to realise multilingual publications, lectures and screenings to highlight the building as an architectural icon.
More receptions and events
The renovation that was supervised by OMA resulted in a sustainable building with improved accessibility and functionality. The splendid Auditorium, seating more than 300 people, is used for Kunsthal activities, but is also frequently hired out as an event location. As a networking location for businesses, societies and educational institutions, the Kunsthal is a beautiful and inspiring venue for the exchange of knowledge and informal meetings.
The number of commercial receptions and events at the Kunsthal, both in the Auditorium and in the café, rose again in 2016. An increasing number of companies found their way to the Kunsthal as a location for organising receptions or other events. Apart from our sponsors, we were happy to welcome, among others, the following companies in 2016: L’Oréal, Swatch, Nike, Eneco, de Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten (Dutch Bar Association), Rabobank private banking and BoArte.
A lively Museumpark
Numerous events, such as the Poetry International kick-off, the China Café with guest speaker Nout Wellink, the Hoboken Lecture, an ING quarterly meeting, a Mothership team breakfast or an Urban Trail running contest through the building, were organised on a regular basis and continually gave the Kunsthal fresh impetus and livened up the Museumpark.
Activities such as exhibition openings, FAMILY days, Master classes, lectures and events like the Making Africa Festival and the Fun & Family & Fashion day ensured an increased influx of visitors to the park. As part of Rotterdam Xpanded, a multidisciplinary programme in collaboration with the IFFR and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the Kunsthal organised nine Latin Life Sundays on the occasion of the exhibition ‘Botero. Celebrate Life!’ in July and August. Each of these Sundays from 2 pm, the public was able to enjoy a varied programme of music, dance, food & cocktails, theatre, circus and poetry at the Kunsthal and the Museumpark.
The ‘park knot’
On 19 May 2016, the completion of phase 1 of the Parkenknoop (the ‘Park Knot’) was celebrated in a festive way. The connections between the Museumpark and The Park, also known as the Parkenknoop or ‘Park Knot’, connect the green areas of the city and provide ‘friendlier’ crossings for pedestrians and cyclists. The completion of the Parkenknoop offered the Kunsthal a perfect opportunity for making the Kunsthal Café terrace even more attractive. During the summer months, the terrace was temporarily expanded, not only to accommodate the Latin Life Sundays, but also as a pilot to explore the possibilities for livening up the area of the Museumpark around the Kunsthal and the Natural History Museum. The event proved very successful. The municipality has promised to reconsider the required outdoor terrace licence for the coming year, also as a pilot, and plans to issue it no later than the spring of 2017.
The Museumpark ticket
The marketing colleagues of the institutions along the Museumpark regularly contact each other about programming, routing and possibilities for creating an even stronger profile of the Museumpark as a cultural hotspot. The Museumpark ticket is especially popular among Dutch and foreign tourists who want to enjoy the broad cultural range of the Museumpark for a brief period of time. In order to draw more attention to this combined ticket, an English spoken trailer about the Museumpark ticket was launched in 2016.
Alterations to the building
The innovative policy to transfer the Kunsthal’s management and maintenance to a Rotterdam-based consortium was described in detail in the Annual Report 2014 (only in Dutch). The functional improvements to the buildings have already shown their worth in practice. The building has become easier to use and more flexible. This is apparent from the more intensive use of the Auditorium, the increased revenues of our museum store(s) compared to the period before 2013, and the successful catering outlets. In 2016, the Kunsthal store revenues were lower than estimated due to the write-down of old store inventory.
There is, of course, always room for improvement. In 2015, we planned to make the entrance area even more efficient by linking the entrance desk to the museum shop cash desk. In 2016, the intentions to realise this plan were abandoned due to a number of factors: financial scope, staff changes in crucial positions, and the fact that the design brief was not yet specific enough.
Because we opted for different priorities, we also chose not to continue with the second phase of the office area renovations in 2016. At the beginning of 2016, the first phase of the renovation of a newly furnished staff room, shower, additional sanitary facilities and a kitchen was successfully completed within budget and the set time scale.
On 27 July 2016, after the objections of four different parties had been rejected by the Council of State, the road was cleared for the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen to build its Collection Building in the Museumpark. During constructive consultations with the municipality and other parties, the Kunsthal expressed its concerns and questions regarding the realisation of the Collection Building. The intended construction of the Collection Building was reason for the Kunsthal to anticipate a real risk of displacement effects and a certain risk of diminished physical accessibility. The Kunsthal will continue to keep a close eye on the plans for the Collection Building in the coming year.