Through the process of scale enlargement, and the automation of activities, the harbour of Rotterdam shifts to the west of the city, and the border between harbour and city shifts accordingly. Consequently, the decline of traditional trade activities make room for residential- and other urban developments. The original contrast between the relatively calm residential landscape and the lively centre point for trade is revolving 180 degrees; the basins of the Merwehaven threaten to become open and empty spaces in a densifying urban landscape of the Merwe-Vierhaven (M4H) area.
With the Floating Farm Dairy these beautiful, but slowly orphaned spaces, find meaning in a rapidly changing environment through the introduction of urban farming. The Farm produces, processes and distributes dairy products in the city, close to its consumers. It brings producer and consumer closer together, adds to shorter supply chains and awareness of city residents. Urban waste flows are upgraded from residual product to valuable ingredients cow feed.
Brewers grains, potato scraps and grass clippings from the Feyenoord football stadium are all part of the menu. This adds to urban recycling and constitutes a fairly efficient form of food production. The Floating Farm Dairy is the first step to subsequently planned ‘Foodstrip’ in which a wider range of food production will be represented. The design is, in essence, an agricultural building based on nautical principles. Organization, structural principles and use of materials are used to enhance the buoyancy and stability.
The result is a stacked organization that places all heavy structural- and technical components in the submerged part of the building. All significant and transparent functions are situated on in a lightweight structure on top. The result is a 3-layered façade ranging from concrete to translucent polycarbonate to entirely open. The Floating Farm Dairy is a compact and logically stacked structure that merges technical installations, storage, processing and production in a singular entity.
Three connected concrete pontoons house the production of fruits (ingredients for yogurt), rain- and wastewater recycling and additional installations. On the upper factory floor combines milk and yogurt processing, feeding system, manure handling and retail. The covered cow garden will house 40 cows that will be supported by a manure cleaning robot and a milking robot along with various elements regarding animal welfare like the centrally placed ‘green columns’ that ensure cooling. The cantilevering floors and roof address the multi-level agricultural hub, and articulate its architecture.
The two galleries around the cow garden – vertically connected via two steel bridges – string together various evocative spaces to make an educational route. Along this route visitors gain insight on all activities in the Farm without disturbing the business process. Feeding-, dairy-, and manure processing are all organized to a compact and efficient logistic system that make this unique multi-level program possible. Source by Goldsmith Company.
- Location: Merwehaven, Rotterdam, Netherlands
- Architect: Goldsmith Company
- Client/Initiator: Floating Farm Holding BV
- Gross Built Area: 2000m2
- Completion Year: 2019
- Photographs: Ruben Dario Kleimeer, Courtesy of Goldsmith Company