Completed recently in 2013, De Rotterdam by OMA was definitely in my checklist. However, I did not expect to stay there initially. I was not aware that they had a hotel designated in the shifting volumes and was ecstatic to find out that I could stay in the vertical city.
Rotterdam is not as dense as New York City so the scale and reflective density of the structure definitely stood out while walking across the Erasmus Bridge by Ben van Berkel. A little short of 500 feet or 149 meters, it will not complete with some of the tallest buildings in the world. The experience you get from the building however, is quite unique compared to your standard form extrusion.
The vertical city is manifested through the assignation points where different uses and users intersect. While travelling vertically, there is a sense of having a neighbor through the voids in between volumes. The nearsighted transparency of OMA's choice of glass facade plays a role in this experience as I waved hello to the middle volume's working tenants. They waved back with a smile and continued working on their computers. There is a lack of privacy in the building cavities explicitly, but the rooms themselves have all the privacy with almost all hotel rooms having no views of their neighbors. Inside the room, however, transparency is your envelope. It is both your friend and enemy. The lightness and the multi-use of demising glass panels make the space simple and allows natural light to pour through the room but it's almost like living without interior walls. If you plan on staying here with someone, please keep in mind that you will definitely see everything they do in the bathroom and that there are no walls where you can hide to change unless you go inside a closet. The controlled transparent boundaries build cohesion in a small scale and De Rotterdam as a whole.
My friend and I had the opportunity to have breakfast at the hotel and it was a nice opportunity to sample a typical Dutch breakfast buffet. I will admit that I hoarded the all the different breakfast sprinkles and brought them home with me-- only to find out that they're available in Asian (not American) supermarkets in New York City as soon as I got back. The furniture was quite fitting and we had beautiful views. Despite being in the middle of summer, it was quite chilly so we opted to stay inside and enjoyed our post-breakfast food coma with macaroons and coffee.
On our way out to explore the city, I had the unique opportunity to witness glass panels being replaced at the plinth of the building. It seemed that they were replacing it with a darker tinted IGU in contrast to its neighboring units, which made sense because it received the most sunlight. Although the hue is still in the blue range, the difference of the tint and treatment is quite stark and I hoped it was not a difficult compromise for the designers. The facade engineering side in me feels all the work that was done behind that small area of work.
I do highly recommend people to stay in Nhow Rotterdam because of the view you get from the hotel of Rotterdam and the Erasmus Bridge. I do not recommend it for families with older offspring unless you are comfortable with baring it all to your family. Friends, yes, but again depends on how deep your friendship is! It is quite far from the main train station but definitely walkable if you do not have too many things with you. It was such a pleasant walk, too!