KPN De Link | Rotterdam

I’ve been cycling across the Maas and back for half a lifetime. In the morning northwards, to my job in the city, in the evenings back home, to ‘my’ south side. I privately rejoiced when the ‘Swan’ was opened as it made my daily trip just that little bit easier. And all that toing and froing across the new bridge also meant that I was able to follow the construction of Toren op Zuid from A to Z. It took two years of sweat and toil to build the first tower on Kop van Zuid – I saw it all and so I feel a certain attachment to that building. It’s beautiful, it complements the bridge, it’s wilful. Now they’re going to ‘renovate’ that tower, breathe new life into it without compromising the character of the building. It’s not such a bad idea in my view. Buildings, like people, need to keep up with the times, keep healthy and fit. It’s a recipe for growing old gracefully.

The KPN building at the beginning of Wilhelminapier in Rotterdam was designed by Renzo Piano. It was the talk of the town upon completion in 1999, but by 2016 it had ceased to meet the user’s needs. With Piano’s consent, an extensive redevelopment by V8 was planned to breathe new life into the building. At ground level there is a huge entrance with public functions and business facilities; the tower has been converted from a traditional office building into a flexible and up-to-the-minute workplace. In its new incarnation the building has reconnected with the neighbourhood and the city and is set to act as a catalyst of public life on the pier.

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In 2016 KPN decided to shift its head office functions from The Hague to the KPN Tower on Wilhelminapier in Rotterdam. This 2000 building by Renzo Piano stands at the southern end of the Erasmus Bridge and is famous for its tilted elevation. KPN wanted to add a substantial publicly accessible programme and at the same time fit out all the work and conference areas using KPN’s own SMART technology.

The two lowest levels were expanded with a major extension featuring a fully glazed elevation that ‘flirts’ with the existing pylon. The glass folds and curves around the pylon, accommodating the oblique position of this iconic element.

The extension includes a 250-seat auditorium, two restaurants, an Experience Centre and plenty of opportunities to link up with events in Rotterdam and on Wilhelminapier. The public function will be further reinforced by the accessible programming that will connect people in an innovative way with the future and past of KPN.

Project details
commission: renovation and expansion of KPN’s head office | location: Wilhelminapier Rotterdam | client: REAL I.S. AG / KPN | project management: Savills | structural engineer: Royal Haskoning DHV | acoustics and building consultant: DGMR | fire safety consultant: DGMR | building services consultant: Deerns | contractor: Dura Vermeer | original architect: Renzo Piano | program: office, shop, auditorium, restaurant | sustainability: BREEAM-NL very good | floor area: 25.500 m² | design: 2016 | completion: 2018 | photography: Ossip van Duivenbode (exterior) and Jeroen Musch (interior)