It was a very early start last Friday, with some bleary eyes post some of the team Octoberfest-ing with our client, The Restaurant Group. But coffees at The Station Pantry at St Pancras, a project we completed for TRG earlier this year, re-fuelled the stein hangovers before we boarded the 7.16 Eurostar for this year’s annual TB research and development trip to Rotterdam; the Netherlands’ up-and-coming second city.

The turnerbates team took advantage of the city famous for its patchwork of post-war architectural styles; from historic Delfshaven to hipster Katendrecht.

In the last 5 years, it is clear to see (through the drizzle, that is!) Rotterdam has developed a diverse market and food hall culture that we were more than happy to experience.

Our itinerary took us across three very different ‘food halls’ in our exploration of the city…


(opened 2014)

The Facts:

  • The first covered food hall in the Netherlands, designed by MVRDV Architects
  • A combination of 228 overhead apartments, 100 fresh produce units, 15 food shops, 8 restaurants, a supermarket and a 1,200 space car park – the ultimate mixed-use structure

We think:

We couldn’t help but be drawn into the impressive landmark structure on the way to our hotel. Whilst there is less of a classic ‘market’ atmosphere seen in the other two food halls, the glass façade and 36,000sq.ft mural artwork certainly create a wow-factor. We love that the space always has life and is being used, for living, shopping and eating. We dined in one of the 8 restaurants in the evening with tapas a-plenty.


(opened summer 2018)

The Facts:

  • The ‘Pakhuismeesteren’ building is a former warehouse of the Dutch East India Company
  • Consists of 15 food stalls and 3 bars alongside the Room Mate hotel
  • Sits in the trendy Katendrecht district, behind Rem Koolhaus’ iconic De Rotterdam building.

We think:

It’s amazing what some simple but effective design concept can do. The Foodhallen’s controlled colour palette, lighting, bold signage and ordered plan create a unified space that immediately feels cosy. We visited at lunchtime but there is a definite night time feel to the space – with its sound system and large bar servicing the whole hall can be easily transitioned into an evening venue.

Fenix Foodhallen

(opened 2015, scheduled to move 2020)

The Facts:

  • Founded by young local culinary entrepreneurs.
  • Focus on local, fresh produce
  • Soon to move next door into the newly redeveloped ‘Fenix I’ mixed-use building and re-open in January 2020

We think:

A bit rougher around the edges with ramshackle kiosks, Fenix is another renovated warehouse space that has an appealing eclectic mix of local traders, including a great microbrewery and bar. On a wet Saturday afternoon this waterside food hall was packed and lively with locals enticed in by the smells omitted from within and enjoying beer and wooden platters stacked with cheese and the like – our kind of place!

Beers sampled, cheeses tasted and atmosphere soaked up, the team are suitably inspired by Rotterdam’s diversity and food market culture.

Catch a glimpse into the rest of our weekend in our video diary…

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