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Rosestraat

Rotterdam

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Housing Block De Peperklip

Client: Gemeentelijk Woningbedrijf Rotterdam

Designers: Carlos José Maria Weeber

One of the most well-known and controversial residential projects in Rotterdam is probably De Peperklip. It’s massive design signals the end of the era of small-scale, homey Dutch architecture. The huge apartment block on the Rosestraat is also a prelude to the development of the Kop van Zuid.

In the inner city regeneration architecture of the 1970s, the emphasis lay on small-scale residential developments; it was a dynamic that also rapidly gained ground in expanding urban areas. It was a logical, if rather excessive, reaction to the monotonous high-rise blocks and row houses of the 1960s. Carel Weeber is one of the first architects to openly repudiate this ‘new cosiness’ or ‘neo-frumpishness’; he realises a great number of residential developments in Rotterdam.

With De Peperklip, Weeber is making an important statement. As its name suggests, the block is designed in the form of an opened-out paper clip and refers to the history of Rotterdam, when the port welcomed clippers loaded with pepper and spices. Two years before the project’s completion, Weeber made a number of changes to his design. The long wall on the side of the Binnenhaven is curved, and underpasses leading to the courtyard area are added.

At almost 500 metres long, the residential super-block holds 555 social housing units, and its rounded end sections are eight storeys high. The central section is lower, with four layers and porch access. The precast concrete cladding panels are faced with different coloured tiles in white, grey, red light blue and ochre yellow. These panels have an opening in the middle for a window or a balcony.

Weeber explains that the vastness of the structure is a response to the context of the building: it must holds its own against the huge harbour structures in the vicinity, while matches the length of the residential ribbon development of the Rosestraat and Oranjeboomstraat. Even at the planning stage, reactions to De Peperklip are heated. Architecture critics call the building unforgiving, severe and cold. Others praise the timeless, rational architecture and view the building as a deliverance from disastrous small-scale planning.

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