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Renovation of two urban renewal blocks in Rotterdam Delfshaven designed by Carel Weeber

The two urban renewal blocks at the Rotterdam Voorhaven en Achterhaven displayed technical problems. There were issues with moisture due to coldbridges in the brickwork and rain penetration due to mortar which had fallen in the (narrow) cavities during construction. The blocks were completed in 1981 to the design of the well-known architect prof. Carel Weeber.

A study of the facades made clear how important the brick silhouettes were in scaling the run-up staircase typology back to the sizes common to historic Delfshaven. It was decided not to repair the brickwork, but to construct a new brickwork façade sleeve in front of the buildings. The reveals were covered by strips of bluestone. The character of the silhouettes was further enhanced by the use of fierce orange-brown Wasserstrich bricks. The lintels between the windows were covered by bespoke fibre-cement profiles. Aluminum sheets were added to the steel railings in order to improve privacy. The scheduled paint job was integrated in the design. The bright blue plastic panels under the windows contradicted the brick silhouettes and were replaced by grey coated glass.

The renovation was reason to add a pergola to the rear gardens, solving the conflict between private and public space at Achterhaven.

Carel Weeber did not want to be involved in the design. Some days after handover he sent a postcard to the office: ‘Has it become beautiful? Yes!!!’