Blaak 8

structure of tree leading to facade design

The design has emerged from the urban contours of the surrounding areas, sandwiched in between the railway tunnel, the extended Willemsbrug and the Blaak. A 6-floor trapezoidal shaped building base runs parallel to the extended Willemsbrug, with above a twisted and cantilevered rectangular high rise of 14 floors. The receding and rotated 3 floors high top, is oriented towards the city center. A building composition according to the classical configuration of ‘base, body & top’.

The structure of a tree with its natural constructional logic, has been the inspiration for the facade design. At the top, where the forces are small, the tree exists of thin twigs. At the bottom, where the forces come together, the trunk looks broad and strong. It is this natural structure that has served as inspiration for the load-bearing facade of Blaak 8. On the lower floors heavy piers reflect the ‘tree-trunks’ which extend upwardly branching out into smaller piers that reflect the ‘tree-tops’. The tower owes its stability to this diagonal fluttering ‘branches’. This structure ensures the building to be experienced as abstract and to be clearly visible from different views.

Despite the wide variety of facade fragments as a result of the irregular shape of the ‘tree structure’, GROUP A has been able to minimise the number of elements. The smart use of a limited number of molds (7 window-options and 1 closed part) in the base-production mold of 7,20 m, provided a feasible and financially viable facade. By subtly varying the roughness and the ‘sparkling’ characteristics of the natural stone supplement in the concrete elements, the tree structure in the facade is strengthened. In this way the building presents itself constantly in a different way, depending on the light, weather conditions and season.





New build


Blaak 8, Rotterdam, NL


22,500 sqm



Start design

October 2004

Start construction

June 2010


Ossip van Duivenbode, Scagliola/Brakkee

In collaboration with

Dreissen architecten

The makers of this project

Maarten van Bremen

Maarten van Bremen Architect | Partner

Jos Overmars

Jos Overmars Architectural engineer | Projectleader

Janneke van der Velden

Janneke van der Velden

Roy Grob

Roy Grob

Floris van der Poel

Floris van der Poel

Sander Peter Schuur

Sander Peter Schuur

Arjan Pit

Arjan Pit

Luna Solas

Luna Solas

Silvio Carta

Silvio Carta

External stakeholders


Dura Vermeer Bouw

Structural Engineer

IMd Raadgevende Ingenieurs

Installation advisor

De Blaay-van den Bogaard Raadgevende Ingenieurs bv