VRIJ ENTREPOT DE VIJF WERELDDEELEN
TH.J. STIELTJES, A.W. MEES, J.S.C. VAN DER WALL, 1874-1879, Handelsplein, Rotterdam
J.S.C. van der Wall
Industrial and public-utility buildings
cepezed (ren. 1991-1995)
Housing De Boog
The Rotterdam Trade Association or RHV was founded in 1872 by Lodewijk Pincoffs. Between 1874 and 1879 this would grow into the largest trading facility in Europe. Then Pincoffs' empire collapsed; Pincoffs himself fled to America leaving behind a debt running into millions. In a 'free warehouse' or vrij entrepot traders could store goods not directly intended for the Netherlands without having to pay import duties. The first such free warehouse in Rotterdam was sited on Boompjes. The one here, De Vijf Werelddeelen ('the five continents') is almost 200 metres long and 37 metres wide. The warehouse of over 30,000 m2 is divided into five segments each named after a continent. These are separated by heavy fire walls that extend through the facade and the roof. The structure includes cast-iron columns. The complex, separated from its surroundings by a tall blank wall, served as a warehouse until 1990, when it was recast as a shopping centre with office space and housing. A glass-roofed well at its centre floods the building with daylight. Here also are the galleries accessing the housing. The deep units are laid out as lofts and maisonettes, with the wet services freestanding in the 2.85 metre tall apartments.