Welcome to our building!
The Open City is situated on the Boomgaardsstraat, just off the Witte de Withstraat in the centre of Rotterdam. The City has two events stages, fully operating analogue and digital cinema facilities, the S/ash Gallery exhibition space, the UBIK performance space, The Performance Bar, the Pirate Bay media archive, WORM Sound Studio, Filmwerkplaats and #Wunderbar café. Here, we organise and host film screenings, talks, exhibitions, performances and theatre, concerts, club nights, debates, workshops, readings guerrilla actions and much more.
History and building details
WORM’s building was constructed to a design by SuperUse Studios, in partnership with Atelier van Lieshout. The founding principle for the building is the use of recycled material, just as in our previous building at the Achterhaven. This is one of the largest reuse projects in the Netherlands. The reuse is seen in WORM Central Station with the aircraft panels (from Japan Airlines airplanes), the Skai leather of the NS intercity trains, and the floor of desks (from a design by Friso Kramer). We created the desks ourselves. Like the lockers in Tropicana, the air system is kept out of sight.
Sliding benches can be found in the foyer. These are made of cable-reel wood and storage cabinets. The storage cabinets were in use when this space was still an archive, and when the building housed the Fotomuseum. The lighting (runway lights), the WCs (liquid tanks) and the #Wunderbar are also made of found materials that boast their own histories. The protruded entrance is designed to keep the facade intact, as the building is a monument. It used to be a newspaper office and a printing press for (amongst others) the NRC, Het Vrije Volk and Algemeen Dagblad.
Atelier van Lieshout devised and made the entrance, the offices and the smoking area. To do this, they removed all the steel from their own studios and used the used glass from the old WORM building (making this ‘third hand’ material). The office bunker (according to AVL, a ‘shelter for civilization’) serves as a storage space for the night and as a sound buffer so that the vicinity does not suffer from noise pollution.
WORM building brochure
SuperUse Studios brochure
Unseen parts of the building are also made from recycled materials. The insulation material is made of jeans fibres, for instance. The floor insulation consists of multiple layers of system ceilings, whilst the beams that have been sawn away to make space (for use elsewhere). WORM undertook a lot of tasks themselves, but the greater part was created by the construction company Bouwmeester in Rotterdam. WORM was in weekly discussion with them round the building work progress. A lot of creativity was needed to do everything well.
Throughout the project the size of the building was adjusted according to the size of the material (even though some items were just too high or too low). WORM wanted to saw, or melt as little as possible. It is no coincidence that the aircraft panels fit, as they were specifically sourced after the technical drawings had been made. We also reused drawings from other architects. Why should we draw a staircase if it has already been done a hundred thousand times?
The most remarkable aspect of the project was that we kept within budget. While we started building, we continued to gather money together and, if there was a windfall, the funds were redirected somewhere else. Of course, things went against us. And there were contradictions and changes. Regardless we built for about 6 months and cried with relief when the fire brigade finally gave its consent, because although this is an experimental building, one matter remains paramount: it has to be safe. We can happily say that we fully comply with all the rules. Nice to know, right?