The amazing concrete colossus of the Graansilo Maatschappij company on Brielselaan has dominated the southern bank of the Maas for many years. It is one of those enormous storage depots that the government needs to ensure a supply of daily bread to the country’s population for a number of years.
A major extension to the silo on Brielselaan has been in the pipeline for some time, but the available space is very tight, while construction of a new silo outside the city would cost a fortune, which would certainly not be responsible at this time. A solution has therefore been sought, which could open the way for an extension right beside the existing silo.
A two- and three-cell silo 40 metres in height is currently under construction along Brielselaan, and it will be able to store over 20,000 tonnes of grain.
Het Rotterdamsch Parool, 5 October 1951
What we now know as the Maassilo is a silo building constructed in various phases by the Graan Elevator Maatschappij. The first silo was designed in 1910 by the Rotterdam architect J.P. Stok. It could store 20,000 tonnes of grain. A substantial extension for 50,000 tonnes followed in 1931 behind this building. The design by Brinkman and Van der Vlugt marked the first use of sliding formwork in the Netherlands. A new extension for 22,000 tonnes followed in 1952, designed by the architects Ae.G. & J.D. Postma. This is located on a narrow strip on Brielselaan along the full length of the two existing silos. This extension is 1000 metres long, 10.75 metres wide and about 40 metres tall. In the middle is a kink. The silo cantilevers 2.80 metres over the street. Columns that would have created a sort of covered arcade were not allowed.
A portion of the dilapidated and abandoned silo complex has been in use as an event venue since 2004. Various functions were added in 2007, including offices, studios and presentation spaces for creative entrepreneurs, in what is called the Creative Factory. The Now & Wow dance club reopened on the tenth floor in 2018.
The Graan Elevator Maatschappij had occupied a representative head office on Parklaan, designed by Michiel Brinkman, since 1915. Adjoining the silo were some cluttered extensions. In 1963 it was decided to build some office space close to the silo. The chosen architect was Herman Haan (1914-1996), who at the time enjoyed more fame as an explorer in Africa than as an architect. During the construction of the building in January 1964, Haan departed for Mali on an expedition with a NCRV television crew. His fortnightly travel reports made a big impression. Haan established his name as the architect of radically modern private residences, but he also completed many commercial buildings in the Rotterdam region.
The small building was positioned on the quay, even protruding over the water owing to a lack of space. It consists of two staff dwellings with a garage on the lower floor and a 250-m2 office space on the upper floor. The rectangular volume is set on three sturdy concrete columns in the water of the Maashaven. The concrete structure of the lower floor thins towards the edges, enhancing the illusion of floating. The dwellings and office space are accessed via a bridge and a steel staircase. The facades to the street are fairly closed, but those facing the water feature generous recessed strip windows. An elongated balcony also extends across the full width on both floors. The pronounced gargoyle on the side facade is a subtle reference to the work of Le Corbusier. The floors of rubble stone are characteristic of the work of Haan. The facades consist of prefabricated concrete panels and anodized aluminium frames.
In 1970 the two dwellings were converted into office space. In 1973 there were plans to build a sort of office tower over the building, but they came to nothing. The exterior of the building is still intact, although the interior has been completely rebuilt. The entire building is now in use as office space.