Rotterdam has no shortage of impressive architecture. The Witte Huis, Hotel New York, the Van Nelle factory – everyone in the city has their own favourite architectural masterpiece. And so do I. It might surprise you, but my favourite building in Rotterdam is the former prison complex at the Noordsingel.
The enormous compound was at the time of construction one of the most advanced prisons in the world. The five cell blocks radiate from a central hall like a monstrous sea-star, so that theoretically one guard could watch all the inmates. Recently, the prison has played a prominent role in the Dutch series “High Tides”.
The Noordsingel complex was much more than just a prison – it was a complete judiciary enclave, with court, archive, warden’s villa and what not. Now the prison is closed and the complex is getting a new life. The prison yard will become a communal park. The rest of it is up for grabs – offices, DIY apartments, student housing – the Tuin van Noord is big enough to accommodate pretty much every idea, including yours!
When finished, the compound will be accessible to the public, adding a much welcome green area to the neighbourhood. In the meantime, you can take a sneak preview here.