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Plan of Coolsingel: the alienating metamorphosis (runway and planes) embedded in the centre of Rotterdam
Plan of Coolsingel: the alienating metamorphosis (runway and planes) embedded in the centre of Rotterdam

Plan of Coolsingel: the contemplative space after the airfield disappears
Plan of Coolsingel: the contemplative space after the airfield disappears

Post office terminal
Post office terminal

Sculpture garden in the former post office
Sculpture garden in the former post office

Stadhuisplein terminal
Stadhuisplein terminal

Official state business in the Town Hall
Official state business in the Town Hall

View over the runway
View over the runway

Prospect of the newly generated space in the centre of Rotterdam
Prospect of the newly generated space in the centre of Rotterdam





PROJECTINDEX
 
THE METAMORPHOSIS OF COOLSINGEL
Technische Universiteit Delft
ARCHITECTURE

or the benign demolition of the City
The design examines the essence of architectural metamorphosis by transforming the Coolsingel area in Rotterdam into an airport. Once the planes have gone, Coolsingel can return in a new guise.
Architecture has the habit of arriving too late and staying far too long. The city is less the place we thought up than the place others have left us. So we are all inhabiting the decisions, mistakes and triumphs of those who went before us. This final-year project steps off from the paradox between the slowness of what is built and the transience of use.
The metamorphosis of Coolsingel, or the benign demolition of the City examines the essence of architectural metamorphosis. It uses metamorphosis to confront the consequences of a pointless hypothesis in an urban setting that in turn burdens us with the question of architecture's autonomy. How much of a servant can architecture be if it doesn't know who to serve? What is the consequence of the position from which architectural designing starts? This fundamental tension is, essentially, the architect's 'To be, or not to be'.
Metamorphosis is the poetic equivalent of transformation. Unlike transformation, metamorphosis marks the onset of a seemingly pointless change. A change influenced by the significance bestowed upon it by key figures such as Ovid, Goethe and Kafka. Research into the versality of the concept gave rise to a design methodology. Beginning with an alienating metamorphosis, followed by embedding in the surroundings and concluding with the disappearance of the alienating element, the methodology implies a rigid thought-experiment. Once that element has disappeared, what is left is a design that brings to light the subject's intrinsic quality.
In this project the subject of metamorphosis is Coolsingel in Rotterdam. By extrapolating the essence of Coolsingel, the boulevard alters from a highway to a runway. To make a space for the planes, the area around Coolsingel transforms into an airport. This transformation is based on an analysis of the site on the one hand and on a study into the typology of international airports on the other. When the planes leave the city Coolsingel will return in a new guise.
The rebirth of Coolsingel gives it the guise of a contemplative space. The beauty peculiar to the newly created space lies in the paradox between the wholesale clearance of the street and the compaction of the built fabric round about. A sturdy facade enfolds the space, marking it as the centre of the city. The facade's explicit formal idiom with its openings for gateways and loggias reconsiders the characteristics of an architectural urbanity not designed to a specific programme.