Feyenoord City project feels COVID-19 heat


Feyenoord new stadium update April 2020 Image: OMA

The Feyenoord City project is almost in the doldrums and the €1 billion project could theoretically collapse over the ongoing pandemic. Should that be the case, a new proposal is in the offing on how the old De Kuip could be reinvented.

Feyenoord City is an urban development project in the Dutch city of Rotterdam in The Netherlands. The project involves the construction of a new stadium for Feyenoord, the reconfiguration of the old Kuip , the construction of a city park and the construction of houses.

The new Feyenoord Stadium is expected to be built over Nieuwe Maas, partly on water. It would become the heart of Feyenoord City, a major revitalization project for the entire part of Rotterdam’s riverside.

To be placed atop a tall platform, the stadium would rise significantly above existing buildings. And even if dwarfed by high-rise offices nearby, it would dominate the area volume-wise, becoming a new landmark visible from all important parts of the city.

Feyenoord Rotterdam is a Dutch professional football club in Rotterdam, which plays in the Eredivisie, the top tier in Dutch football. Feyenoord enjoys huge national and international support and has staunch followers.

On April 9 this year, the public consultation period for Feyenoord City concluded. A clear picture has emerged that there’s both support and significant opposition to the scheme proposing Feyenoord’s relocation just a few hundred meters north.

De Kuip is presently the home stadium of football club Feyenoord, one of the traditional top teams in The Netherlands.

While a world-class stadium partially built on water sounds like music to the ears, others would rather prefer the quintessential and bearing historic value De Kuip being employed further as a football temple. Further, few local residents have voiced their own concerns over what is a €1 billion scheme (of which €444 million would cover the stadium).

Formally, the project is still on track. That is, the new stadium would be delivered in 2025, instead of unfeasible deadlines of 2022, 2023 and 2024. By early May, the environmental permit application should be filed for what would only see groundbreaking in 2022.

But, with COVID-19 baring its fangs the world over, the entire scheme is shrouded in uncertainty right now. Crucially, both the Feyenoord Stadium and Stadion Feijenoord (De Kuip) have already been badly hit by the football and event crisis, both losing their revenue streams within a day.

It remains to be seen how they weather the coronavirus storm, but, going by the way things are progressing, public support might be needed. Meanwhile, Stadion Feijenoord is heavily indebted due to the development of Feyenoord City.

Plan B

With the public consultation period about to end, a new vision was created.

De Moderne Kuip is being reconfigured since mid-2019. Several high-profile companies like architects Molenaar & Co., West 8, EGM Architecten, ABT, as well as agencies like Octatube and Hypercube are involved in the development. Known as Consortium De Moderne Kuip, the ensemble includes entrepreneurs like Erwin Ekelaar and real estate giant Aat van Herk.

The scheme is entirely independent of official procedures and is standalone per se. It is a Plan B scheme should the more ambitious plan fall through. With this Plan B vision, the idea of upgrading De Kuip has once again come to life. The whole plan is less expensive than Feyenoord City (stadium cost of €200 million compared to €444 million), and enjoys the advantage of salvaging the iconic De Kuip for football use.

Interestingly, De Moderne Kuip would do to the old stadium what it does to its name: Include the historical part within a modern form. Not only the monument-listed grandstands from 1937 would be preserved, but also the roof added in 1994. The cover would be lifted from place and incorporated into a much larger new roof in a unique piece of engineering work. Though not very necessary, the free-standing floodlight masts would be retained, albeit being moved further away to make room for expansion.

To expand capacity from 51,000 to 63,000, a new third ring of seating would be introduced on top of the existing auditorium, technically and aesthetically in line with the old steel skeleton. It would be erected on a brand new structure built outside of the existing ground. Expanding outwards means extra room for floor spaces, including HoReCa (Dutch-language term for the food service and hotel industries) uses, a total of 70,000 square meters.

Despite very limited integration into the historical stands (only part of the lower ring would be replaced with boxes and lounges), the stadium would still meet international standards in terms of hospitality, offering roughly 10 percent to business guests (6,250 seats plus private spaces, totaling 6,500 m2). This could, according to people who are furthering the idea, provide even greater matchday revenue leap than Feyenoord City despite not burning a deep hole in the pocket.

De Moderne Kuip is the most practical and state-of-the-art De Kuip revamp proposal in terms of master planning for the surrounding area, particularly the ‘triangle’ (15 hectares) in which the stadium sits. It would house numerous new uses, majorly housing and commerce. Meanwhile, dropping the Feyenoord City project idea would facilitate a new bridge to come up over the Nieuwe Maas, thus enabling a tram connection through it and boosting public transport use on gamedays.

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