Barcode Architects’ The Muse (realised in 2020) is located on the quay of the Wijnhaven in Rotterdam, in the up-and-coming Maritime District. The program of the striking residential tower is focused on urban housing quality, with lots of space for social interaction, a lively plinth, and features that enhance the living comfort of the residents, such as a communal roof garden.

Location: Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Program: Apartments, roof garden, gym, hotel rooms, retail, parking facility
Client: VOF WH69 & Wilma Wonen
Year: 2014-2020
Status: Realised
Size: 20.000m2
Collaborators: IMD (structural engineer), Mabutec (installations), ABT (acoustics, fire safety, technology

The Muse by Barcode Architects - Sheet2
©Barcode Architects

Recognizable curve

What is special about The Muse is first of all the sculptural silhouette. The volume makes a recognizable curve to the northwest between the fifth and eighth floors, creating space for a large, green roof garden on the fifth floor. Anthracite facades form a dark band around the tower and contrast beautifully with the spacious and bright white balconies on the north and south sides of the tower. The balconies are placed in an offset with the floors above and below, allowing for a double height and optimal daylight entry into the apartments. The balconies provide all apartments with spacious outdoor areas with panoramic views over the river Maas south and the city centre north.

The Muse by Barcode Architects - Sheet5
©Barcode Architects

Connection with street level

The design of The Muse accentuates the connection with the street level through its inviting plinth. A central lobby providing access to the apartments and large commercial spaces are located on the plinth, connecting the tower with the surrounding urban environment. Although the three-layer parking facility has been realized above ground, it is hidden behind the apartments overlooking the quay, taking away the anonymity of a street-level parking structure.

The Muse by Barcode Architects - Sheet6
©Barcode Architects

Ensemble with CasaNova

Barcode Architects initiated the development of The Muse on plot Wijnhaven 69 in 2013, in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The following design proposal convinced investor Wilma Wonen to acquire both plot 69 and the adjacent plot 65, where Barcode Architects’ 110-meter-high, triangular CasaNova is currently under construction and is expected to be completed by the end of this year. By developing the two residential towers almost simultaneously, joint functions that serve both buildings could be developed, further strengthening the sense of community among the residents.

“The Muse forms an ensemble with its neighbour: the triangular tower CasaNova, which is under construction and also designed by Barcode Architects.”

The Muse by Barcode Architects - Sheet7
©Barcode Architects

Shared facilities
The towers are connected by the roof garden on the fifth floor, offering extra outdoor space for the residents of both the Muse and CasaNova. By situating the roof garden on level five rather than on the top of the tower, an interesting dialogue is created between this new green space and the urban environment on the street level. In line with this idea, various facilities have been included in the buildings for residents of both towers to use, such as hotel rooms that residents can reserve for their guests, sports facilities, a communal workspace, and a comfortable kitchen adjacent to the entrance of the roof garden.

The epitome of urban development

With the design of The Muse, Barcode Architects was literally ahead of the curve. The Muse served as an inspiration for the Rotterdam high-rise vision, which was presented in 2019. The vision focuses on the development of the human city, with more social interaction between residents, healthy living and working conditions, and vitality and vibrancy at the street level. The focus on a residential community, the activation of the street, and urban living qualities make the design of The Muse a prime example of the realisation of this vision. The hospitality features and other communal functions ensure the desired social interaction between the residents. This makes The Muse the epitome of a new urban development flourishing in Rotterdam.

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