By the time it opened last November, Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen storage depot was a local landmark. Shaped — and finished — like a steel salad bowl, the unmistakable reflective form hints at a warehouse like no other — one where the art is open to the public. Complementing the MVRDV-designed showpiece, concrete design has recently completed work on a rooftop multipurpose restaurant and lecture hall — and occasional exhibition venue — that tops the iconic building.
The Amsterdam-based designers faced an unusual and challenging brief; creating a hospitality space — the Renilde restaurant, led by acclaimed chef Jim de Jong — that can quickly and easily be adapted for other uses. In a pared down space framed by floor-to-ceiling windows and natural wood finishes, concrete design opted to maintain the simplicity of the room, devising an ingenious set of folding tables that seamlessly become part of the interior architecture when not in use.
When Renilde is open, the generous dining room is outfitted with a series of long communal tables, accented by the eclectic pops of colour across the seating’s upholstery. When those tables are folded and pushed aside, they frame the glass room as wall elements, matching the ceiling’s wood features in scale, width and materiality. Within minutes, the open space is transformed into a venue for talks, lectures and other events.
Alongside the open dining room, the restaurant is served by a kitchen and bar, which are located on opposite sides of the room. In a departure from wood and glass, the two spaces are framed by walls of striped black-and-white tiles. Above the kitchen, lights spell out RENILDE in pink neon.
And in between the kitchen and bar, a stainless steel volume is another visual showpiece — one that can serve as a restaurant cloakroom or pantry bar, depending on the occasion.
For the designers, the unique setting — and mix of uses — proved both a challenge and an opportunity. “The advantage of having a museum as a client is being open to original ideas,” say concrete’s Rob Wagemans and Bart de Beer.
“Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen has always allowed us the leeway to achieve the highest quality, so a field of tension between the visitor experience and functionality is palpable. We are proud of the end result and the contribution we’ve been privileged to make to such an iconic place in the museum world here in Rotterdam.”