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Rotterdam’s First Triangular Tower: Barcode Architects’ CasaNova

Laura von Puttkamer

Rotterdam is working on developing the skyline of its Maritime District. With CasaNova, a 35-floor high rise, Barcode Architects have designed the first triangular tower of Rotterdam’s skyline. It forms an ensemble with The Muse, which was completed in 2020.

With CasaNova, a 35-floor high rise, Barcode Architects have designed the first triangular tower of Rotterdam’s skyline. (c) Frank Hanswijk

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Rotterdam is working on developing the skyline of its Maritime District. Currently, the Muse building by Barcode Architects is one of the tallest buildings in the Dutch City. With CasaNova, a 35-floor high rise, Barcode Architects have designed the first triangular tower of Rotterdam’s skyline. At 110 metres, CasaNova is an iconic silhouette. It forms an ensemble with The Muse, which was completed in 2020.

CasaNova in Rotterdam

In December 2021, the construction of Rotterdam’s first triangular tower has reached a new milestone: The completion of its 35th floor means that the building is now at its highest point. CasaNova has an iconic silhouette. It is located right next to The Muse, a sculptural residential tower by Barcode Architects. Together, the buildings form an architectural synergy. CasaNova is an all-sided residential building in Rotterdam’s Maritime District. It activates the corner on Wijnhaven and is part of the new walking route between Oude Have and Museumpark. Its slender shape ensures optimal daylight and sightline conditions for the surrounding buildings, while affording its inhabitants a 300-degree view of the city. Between floors five and eight, the volume of CasaNova points downwards, elegantly balancing the tower on the base. On top of the firth floor, a 1,600 m² roof garden will be realised, serving as a meeting point for CasaNova and The Muse residents and contributing to more liveliness on the quay. Other features of CasaNova include a gym, a communal kitchen, co-working spaces, meeting rooms and hotel rooms. Several hospitality functions and a central entrance on the ground level will add vibrancy to the surrounding public space.
More than 116 dwellings of different sizes are part of CasaNova’s residential offer. They have floor-to-ceiling windows and a modern design. From the outside, red-brown travertine panels will give the tower a warm appearance. The panels with their gradually broader smooth-edged surfaces will reflect the sunlight to create a shifting effect throughout the day. The building is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

The Muse

Neighbouring residential tower The Muse also focuses on comfortable inner-city living, social interaction, and a lively ground floor. Its sculptural silhouette enriches the city’s skyline and sets an important precedence for high-rise buildings in the city. Its facades are more introvert than those of CasaNova. They have an anthracite colour that form a dark band around the tower. Their openings provide natural light for the apartments, while also offering privacy from adjacent towers. On the north and south sides of The Muse, there are spacious, white balconies that contrast with the anthracite colour and allow for optimal daylight entry.

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Advocating for more density in Rotterdam

The shared spaces between The Muse and CasaNova show that Barcode Architects know their city well. Their dense residential projects are a three-dimensional part of the city rather than anonymous buildings. The architects intend for residents to know each other, to enjoy a pleasant atmosphere and to be able to access surrounding public spaces, while also contributing to them. Density is key to Rotterdam’s urban development. The urban revitalisation of the city has benefitted from Barcode Architects and their vision of high rise, which back in 2013, when The Muse was first designed, was ahead of the curve.
The building served as inspiration for the city’s high-rise vision: By 2040, 50,000 new homes will be built in Rotterdam. Rather than going for skyscrapers, urban planners want to create a sense of community in dense residential towers that are tall, but not too tall. They aim for the development of the human city, which is characterised by social interaction between residents, vitality and vibrancy at street level, and healthy living and working condition for everyone. Both The Muse and CasaNova are examples for the realisation of this vision. Their hospitality features and communal function as well as the street activation ensure social interaction and overall liveability. Therefore, the buildings by Barcode Architects are often touted as models of sustainable high rise urban development.

Maritime District Rotterdam

Rotterdam’s Maritime District has long been known as an anonymous office area. Recently, however, it has started to transform into a vibrant urban district. Nautical roots are strong here. Today, the Maritiem Museum, historic ships and cranes and various temporary exhibitions provide information about the city’s maritime past and present. New developments such as CasaNova and The Muse show that despite a decline in office space requests (exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic), revitalisation is possible. By focusing on a liveable, vibrant urban environment, dense residential towers and architectural highlights, the firm is contributing to the revival of the Maritime District.
Barcode Architects’ partner Caro van de Venne has explained the architects’ vision for their buildings in the Maritime District: “Within the city boundaries, densification through high-rise is a favourable option, but anonymous volumes where residents don’t know each other should be avoided. With CasaNova, we want to create a three-dimensional part of the city, where people live healthily, neighbours know each other and there is a pleasant atmosphere at ground level. The design principles used in these projects, set an example for the new Rotterdam High Rise vision.”

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