The revitalisation of the Deliplein has enabled Katendrecht to shed its longstanding reputation as one of the worst districts in Rotterdam. It is now one of the most sought-after neighbourhoods in the city. The adjacent Fenix warehouses are now due for redevelopment. "As part of this redevelopment we are looking ahead to the future, with reverence for the past," explains development manager Christiaan Cooiman of Heijmans.
During the interview the mist lifts from the Rijnhaven. Slowly but surely it becomes clear why so much time and effort is being spent on a new lease of life for the Fenix 1 and Fenix 2 warehouses: emerging on the other side of the water are Hotel New York, the new Luxor Theater and the 149-metre-high De Rotterdam tower. "This view makes my heart beat faster," Christiaan Cooiman readily admits. As a native of Rotterdam, this is his reason for wanting to purchase one of the apartments, which will be constructed above the current warehouse in two years. "In another ten years or so, one of my children will be able to live here."
Renovation and new build
In six months Heijmans is due to start renovating the warehouse. A reinforced midsection will be incorporated to support the floors above. While we will retain the industrial, nautical character of the former warehouse, the floors above will be light and high in contrast: both perceptually and structurally.
Each floor boasts a living space of 2,600 m2 and occupants can arrange the interiors as they wish. Christiaan is particularly proud of this last aspect. "This is a unique concept in the Netherlands. With four floors on the south side and eight on the north side, future occupants can decide exactly where they wish to live. Anything is possible: from 40 m2 to 200 m2. We are retaining full control in order to guarantee adequacy and appropriateness. We can thus ensure that the project meets the requirements of the Dutch Building Decree."
A total of 80% of homes in Fenix 1 have now been sold. The road to this success was far from smooth. "Katendrecht has long had a reputation for being one of Rotterdam's least popular districts. We joined forces with the municipality of Rotterdam and housing corporation Woonstad Rotterdam and started working on parts of the district. For example, 16 new homes have been built in Katendrecht-Zuid and 21 of these include self-build plots. The dwellings are located near the SS Rotterdam, which is now being used as a floating multicultural centre that incorporates a hotel, bars and restaurants."
Heijmans has also injected new life into the Deliplein. "By lowering the threshold for visitors to Katendrecht we wanted to gain the trust of prospective residents. In exchange for a financial contribution, we asked Theater Walhalla to organise a number of public events." This was a success, as events such as the Nacht van de Kaap festival and legendary bike race Ronde van Katendrecht now take place here. "This is also one of the venues where the Rotterdam International Film Festival screened movies in the past. These events aim to encourage people to enjoy visiting Katendrecht again. We have succeeded." Various companies and buyers have now decided to locate here.
Past and future
According to Christiaan, the events have also contributed to Katendrecht becoming one of Rotterdam's most popular districts. We intend to continue building on this with Fenix 1. "The building is not our only concern: we're also seeking to create the right combination between social and public space. In addition to Walhalla, the present warehouse will also incorporate a brewery, bed & breakfast and the Rotjeknor children's circus."
During the restoration process we are taking into account the past function of the Fenix warehouse. "In the past, Dutch emigrants used to store their baggage here before it was loaded onto the ships. The previous name, San Francisco, referred to their final destination. The ground floor includes details such as train rails, which we are retaining. We are obviously looking to the future during the renovation process, but with respect and admiration for the past."
Drain water heat recovery
Sustainable products are used during the warehouse renovation and new build. "For example, a green roof is being constructed and we are installing thermal energy storage." The installation uses the Hydrea Thermpipe, an invention by Heijmans, Socea and Frank." As the drains here were already due for replacement, we proposed that the municipality of Rotterdam use this pipe instead. The pipe generates sustainably energy by using heat from drain water. The inner shell contains a plastic spiral sleeve that functions as a heat exchanger, through which clean water flows. The exchanger and a heat pump ensure that this water heats spaces elsewhere."
Fenix 1 is due to be completed before 2017. "After that, we first want to see the effects on the surrounding area. The warehouse is not our sole focus. We also intend to sustainably renovate or restore a number of other buildings in Katendrecht." There is no rush to do this, however. "Fenix 2 now houses Fenix Food Factory, where a number of small food and drink companies are based. The warehouse also offers temporary space for meetings, presentations, dinners and receptions. This will continue until Fenix 1 is completed, after which these companies are welcome to make the transition to Fenix 1. We can then start giving shape to the redevelopment of Fenix 2."