IABR-2020-

City-Harbor in transition

Test Site M4H+: Pilot Project and Showcase

from "What Do You Need?", Team1010 (2018)

IABR–Atelier Rotterdam


Formerly a major global fruit transition hub, the Merwe-Vierhavens district is now transforming into a completely new residential and commercial area. M4H is one of the areas highlighted in the City Harbor Program – a program by the City of Rotterdam and the Port of Rotterdam aimed at realizing distinct living and working conditions in the city’s harbor areas in the coming decades.
M4H is in a strategic location: next to vulnerable residential areas, such as the Delfshaven and Bospolder-Tussendijken neighborhoods; in the middle of an economically active port area and yet close to the city center; and opposite the knowledge campus RDM Rotterdam on the other side of the river.

The City and the Port have launched the Rotterdam Makers District, which includes M4H and the RDM and is expected to become the hub of the innovative manufacturing industry in the Rotterdam The Hague Metropolitan Region. And with good reason: the old industrial buildings, the sheer size of M4H, and the fresh dynamics arising there offer many opportunities for the development of new residential and commercial typologies, of innovative maker spaces, of test facilities, and of knowledge platforms. Connecting the area to the surrounding neighborhoods (M4H+) presents an opportunity to create new jobs and to provide the ‘working population of the twenty-first century’ with new expertise and skills. And that is necessary if the goal is an inclusive city with an economy that adds local value to the city and empowers its inhabitants.
As studies by IABR–Atelier Rotterdam, The Productive City (2016)and What Do You Need? (2018), demonstrate, M4H is a fine example of an area where the gap between high-tech and low-tech, thinking and creating, and living and working can be bridged, and where the circular economy can be explored and developed in very concrete ways.

M4H: Makers District

foto: Mariska Vogel

Test Site M4H+: Pilot Project and Showcase
As its proprietors, the City of Rotterdam and the Port of Rotterdam together face the challenge of making this city harbor area future proof. The aim is to generate concrete development principles and pilot projects, and therefore the IABR, the City of Rotterdam, and the Port Authority have established Test Site M4H+ in 2018.
The Test Site M4H+ takes spatial design and integrality as its premise. There are many challenges in and around the M4H area. Here, the energy transition and social issues inevitably link up with challenges in the fields of circular economy, the (small) manufacturing industry, and food and water management. The transformation of both the M4H area and of the directly surrounding neighborhoods has to be addressed in one single urban project: researching, imagining, designing, and testing with the essential energy transition as leverage and spatial design as the instrument.

Test Site M4H+

picture: Frank Hanswijk

You'll Never Make Alone
In the coming years, we will research, design and test plans for circular area development in collaboration with local stakeholders in M4H and in the surrounding neighborhoods. Test Site M4H+ will be a pilot project and showcase for the solutions needed to optimally integrate the space that the old port economy has left behind in what will become the resilient Rotterdam of the future.


Test Site M4H+ is a collaboration of IABR, PBM4H, the City of Rotterdam and the Rotterdam Port Authority.