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The urban development design developed by Francine Houben of Mecanoo architecten for the Wilhelmina Pier specified that the still to be developed buildings should be designed as vertical cities. Metropolitan objects – such as endless rows of balconies and the like – were not permitted. Naturally these requirements are reflected in the Montevideo tower in Rotterdam that Mrs Houben designed. It has become a tower with clean lines and fine details and was inspired by the sky scrapers in New York.
The tower consists of three components, programmatically as well as structurally. In this respect it fundamentally differs from its New York inspirations. Indeed, traditional skyscrapers have a consistent structure across their full height. The structures designed for the Montevideo tower are consistent with its functions.
The ground floor and the first two floors were kept open structurally as much as possible. Strong steel was used for the columns, and the concrete core and buttresses provide the necessary stability. Homes with concrete separating walls are located on top. This structure was created using climbing formwork. Initially the intent was to construct the homes using tunnel formwork. However, the walls required a stronger type of concrete than the floors. Using tunnel formwork for this purpose is far more complicated than using climbing formwork.
The top of the building is filled with large apartments which were to have completely flexible lay-outs. Even the concrete core was removed from the floor plan. Stability is now obtained by diagonally placed steel sections directly behind the façade; the so-called tube façade structure. A sprinkler was installed to meet the fire safety requirements.
Naturally, the design of three different structures also meant that bridging structures had to be developed. They link everything together. On the 28th floor – the floor that accommodates the technical installations – there is a steel bridging structure, in addition to the concrete structure, that allows the top to overhang. Coupling the steel and concrete structures of the lower floors to the concrete mid-section of the building is more complicated because of the much greater forces. Furthermore, only the concrete walls in the middle of the building continue down to the bottom. All others require support. Heavy beams were developed for this purpose, composed of plates of the maximum thickness available in S355 quality standard.
By implementing parts of the structure in steel, the building’s layout is not only far more flexible, it is also lighter. Consequently it was possible to establish the building’s foundation on the first sand layer. This made the building’s construction more economical.