In the centre of Groningen, the Rodeweeshuisstraat is being transformed from a dark back street into a lively part of the city centre. The conversion of the old V&D building and its former distribution building, and the construction of the Mercado, will revitalize the public space. This development is a good example of how De Zwarte Hond combines and integrates the power of urban planning and architecture to create better cities and city centres.
During the Second World War, the north side of the Grote Markt was destroyed. When it was rebuilt in the 1950s, large buildings were erected that reflected the optimism of the time, including the large and modern Vroom & Dreesmann department store. Over the years, the V&D complex expanded and Rodeweeshuisstraat largely became a supply street.
The bankruptcy of the department store chain and the disappearance of big department stores from old city centres are not isolated developments. The focus is shifting towards experience and quality, with attractive pedestrian areas, local products and specialist shops. In line with this development, De Zwarte Hond developed a vision for the creation of a knowledge axis. Based on this vision, the developers involved saw opportunities for the reuse of the remaining buildings.
In the new urban development plan drawn up by the partner architects De Zwarte Hond and Loer Architecten, the Rode Weeshuisstraat is no longer the back of the Grote Markt, but the front of the northern city centre. De Zwarte Hond is responsible for two renovation projects and one new building project, which together will ensure the revitalization of the public space and help transform the Rode Weeshuisstraat into a vibrant new hotspot: the Groot Handelshuis (MWPO), The Warehouse and Mercado (both MWPO & Beauvast). At the same time, the city council is working to renew the pavement in the city centre and create more space for cyclists and pedestrians.
Part of the Knowledge Axis
In order to effectively revitalize the Rode Weeshuisstraat, it is important to take an integrated approach to the surrounding area. Groningen’s city centre has undergone a functional shift from north to south in recent decades. In order to give the northern part of the city a new significance, De Zwarte Hond has developed the Knowledge Axis as the basis for the redevelopment of the city centre. The priority is to keep knowledge and employment opportunities in the city centre and to promote ‘Buzz, Hush and Fuzz’ areas that improve the quality of life. The various individual street profiles with low spatial quality can be transformed together into a high quality living, working and shopping area, and at the same time form an important axis for mobility in the centre.
Connectivity and liveability
It is also important for the development of the Knowledge Axis that it intersects with other important connections in the city centre. This will ensure a good north-south link between the functions located on the Knowledge Axis, and thus a well-connected city centre. An important part of this is to change the current situation where mainly the backs of buildings face the axis. By replacing the backs of buildings with frontages, strengthening the plinths with open functions, and adding a high quality residential programme mixed with office and study space, the axis can breathe new life into the city. This will raise the quality of the area, make it attractive to knowledge workers and allow the university to engage more with the city. Consideration has also been given to connecting public spaces, such as city parks and the like, to further enhance the quality of life.
A wide range of functions
During the post-war reconstruction, many large buildings were erected in the centre of Groningen which were used for a long time as department stores and the like. As a result of the disappearance of many of these functions left an area of large empty buildings, which proved difficult to fill. The various individual street profiles with a low spatial quality can be transformed into a high-quality living, working and shopping area, and at the same time form an important axis for mobility in the centre.
An important aspect of the development of the Knowledge Axis and Rode Weeshuisstraat is the effective use of this space by ensuring that it accommodates a variety of functions. For example, despite the national housing shortage, it was decided not to convert all the buildings into residential accomodation, but to strive for a proportional distribution of functions. The large size of many of these buildings also offers the possibility of mixed-use buildings, including the Groot Handelshuis, The Warehouse and Mercado.
The Groot Handelshuis makes an empty building part of the city again
Mercado brings light, air and dynamism to the street and even creates a new square
Transformation Rode Weeshuisstraat
The northern side of the Grote Markt in Groningen was destroyed during the Second World War. When it was rebuilt in the 1950s, large buildings were erected that reflected the optimism of the time. Vroom & Dreesmann opened a large, modern five-storey department store. Over the years, the V&D complex grew into a collection of buildings, with the Rodeweeshuisstraat serving mainly as a supply route.
The bankruptcy of the department store chain marked the end of an era, but the disappearance of big department stores from old city centres is not an isolated development. It is indicative of a shift in our city centres: cars and department stores are giving way to experience and quality, with attractive pedestrian areas and specialist shops.
Where the city centre used to end at the north side, the area will soon form a new link between various routes in the city. De Zwarte Hond is currently working on two redevelopment projects and one new building: the Groot Handelshuis (MWPO), The Warehouse and Mercado (both MWPO & Beauvast). At the same time, the municipality is renewing the paving in the city centre and creating more space for cyclists and pedestrians. Taken together, the various projects are revitalizing the public realm.
- Transformation Rode Weeshuisstraat
- Groningen, NL
- 25.531 m²
- Eigen initiatief
- Architecture, Urban Design
- Residential, Work
- Development Phase
- Colordot, De Zwarte Hond, Ronald Zijlstra Fotografie, Sebastiaan van Damme, Marcel Ijzerman
- More info