Hofplein 19

Hofplein 19, completed in 1960 and designed by C.A. Abspoel, is a typical example of modernism in the post-war reconstruction period. During this period there was a huge shortage of construction materials. For this reason, materials had to be used that could not be used for residential buildings. This is the reason for the existence of the glazed curtain wall, that was so typical of the original design. In its original concept, the building was also infused with the spirit of Rotterdam – Open space. This continues below the building and so that the first floor is in fact a raised ground floor. This modern, monumental intention gave Hofplein 19 a certain grandeur, fitting for the Shell office, which was negated by the renovation in the 1990s. This design translates these original qualities into a contemporary use and character.

Glass curtain wall

Hofplein 19 is Rotterdam’s most boring icon. Only when you walked past it and looked up at the glass facade (the first curtain wall in the Netherlands) did you see the quality and grandeur that shell had in mind. We have used this experience and translated it into the 21st century by giving this floating glass surface a sustainable function.

By using an especially clear and heat resistant glass, the original glass curtain wall was restored to its full glory. This offers a fantastic view onto the impressive concrete structure of the building. At the point where the platform distinctively projects, the glass curtain gains a deep fold. In this fold, a winding staircase connects all floors to the balcony above the petrol station. The deep fold is extended with a series of small folds, a glass reference to the original vertical lines.


The Shell petrol station is not original and was added at a later date and gained its own roof under the raised ground floor. This anomaly was an important identifying feature of the building over the years. In the design, these two important elements, the raised ground floor and the roof of the petrol station were merged into a new and visually prominent platform. This platform forms the lobby of the building and is it accessible via escalators from the Hofplein in an inviting and expansive gesture.

Facade that provides energy

The glass curtain was developed in conjunction with Deernes into an energy-providing element. The folds in the glass curtain act as flues. They naturally discharge warm air and supply cool air. By placing solar collectors between the columns and the glass, the solar heat can be converted into floor heating in the winter. This system provides cooling in the summer via a heat exchanger.

  • commission: invited competition
  • client: PPF
  • project management: NL Asset Management
  • building services consultant: Deerns
  • program: office
  • floor area: 16.000 m²
  • design: 2016