MVRDV - Construction begins on Portlantis, the MVRDV-designed exhibition building for Europe’s largest port

Construction begins on Portlantis, the MVRDV-designed exhibition building for Europe’s largest port


Today, the Port of Rotterdam celebrated the start of construction of Portlantis (previously known as the Harbour Experience Centre), an exhibition building and visitor centre dedicated to Europe’s largest port. Located at the port’s western-most point, on the artificially reclaimed sands of the Maasvlakte 2, the twisting five-storey stack of spaces will give spectacular views while educating visitors about the port’s function and evolution during one of its most important transitions – the shift to sustainable, low-energy operations.

The building takes a practical, no-nonsense approach to its task, channelling the spirit of the port with its simple functionality and dramatic presence. The five levels each have a square floorplan and a large panoramic window that is turned to face a carefully selected view – either a key view related to the exhibition theme on that floor, or in the case of the ground-floor café and fourth-floor restaurant, to the dunes or the North Sea respectively. On the outside of the building, staircases twist their way up the stack, allowing visitors to take in the view from the rooftop terrace for free.

The structure of the building's circular atrium is almost complete

The building’s materials are simple and industrial, seeking to be sustainable by following circular economy principles. The façade panels will use partly recycled materials, and the acoustic ceilings will be made from recycled paper pulp. In turn, the building itself is designed with circular principles in mind: the structure will be demountable so that its parts can easily be reused, and the façade panels will be returned at the end of the building’s lifespan under an agreement made with the manufacturer. Even the building’s foundation, which avoids the use of concrete piles, is designed to leave no trace.

Portlantis is also designed to be energy neutral in its operation. Thanks to its compact volume, high standard of insulation, and efficient mechanical components, the building’s energy can be locally generated by 266 solar panels and its own windmill.

Construction of Portlantis is being carried out by Dutch constructor Van der Ven and is expected to be completed in 2024.

See more of the design here.