Rotterdam’s Markthal: A psychedelic marketplace

Rotterdam's markthal: a psychedelic marketplace
The new Markthal in Rotterdam / © Michel Porro-Getty Images

A four-storey high raspberry tumbles past a tree-sized floret of broccoli, while gigantic prawns plummet towards a pile of mega-mange tout. In Rotterdam’s new market hall, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d slipped down a rabbit hole into Wonderland, where a panorama of supersized fruit and veg rains down across the ceiling. It’s a Sistine chapel of fresh produce.

As if this wasn’t trippy enough, you then notice bedroom windows peeping out from a lemon, and someone doing the washing up inside the stone of an avocado. It turns out the majestic vaulted ceiling of this new temple to food is also inhabited – it’s an apartment block of 230 flats, bent double over the food hall in hallucinogenic wonder.

This €175m conjuring trick is the work of MVRDV, leaders of the wave of “Superdutch” architects that emerged in the Netherlands in the 1990s, spawned from Rem Koolhaas’s Office of Metropolitan Architecture. Driven by poppy polemic, their projects are characterised by improbable structural feats, executed with cartoonish glee. []