Completed in 1992, the Kunsthal, in the Museumpark neighborhood of Rotterdam, is more of a cultural center that it is a museum. Dubbed as a collection-less museum, the Kunsthal is a compilation of several galleries and halls that allow for maximum flexibility and accommodate a multitude of exhibitions and activities that can coexist singularly or collectively. The 3,300 square meter museum serves as a bridge between the busy expressway and the museum park to the north. The museum sits as a subdivided volume of four autonomous parts that are created by two intersections that are extensions of the surround city.
Koolhaas used not only expensive, classic materials such as marble and parquet for the Kunsthal, but also cheap, ‘common’ materials such as corrugated plastic, bare concrete, galvanised steel gratings and rough tree trunks. Each exhibition space has its own character and atmosphere, use of material and format. Daylight is filtered through various layers; the alternation of window and matt glass affords surprising vistas, making the Kunsthal very suitable for all kinds of exhibitions.
Koolhaas’s building is functional, but at the same time it is a contemporary work of art full of themes, references and special effects. Thus the floor plate under the main exhibition space on the dyke is slightly higher than street level, so that this part of the building seems to float. On the roof there is a bright orange steel girder that sticks out over the edge of the roof for one and a half metres – as if someone has left it lying there by mistake.
"The detailing in the Kunsthal is a mode of detailing that frees the attention for other aspects such as the way the ground is read, the sensing of abstractions, of transparency and translucency, of concrete and of the conditions themselves. The sensing of a whole instead of all that fixation on the joins and the encounters." - Rem Koolhaas