When the Fenix warehouse opened its doors on Katendrecht in 1923, it was the largest warehouse in the world. In 1944 the German occupying forces detonated the dock which left the Fenix so severely damaged, that it separated into two parts. Construction began in 1950, which was also when the building was given its current name: the Fenix (Phoenix); after the mythological bird that is able to rise time after time from its ashes.
The history of the Fenix warehouses is tightly related to the docks of Rotterdam, and with the Katendrecht borough in particular. The enormous building was used for the storage and transhipment of all sorts of commodities. The Dutch architect C.N. van Goor designed a concrete building with characteristic windows and robust columns. The Fenix warehouses are a fantastic example of the striking Rotterdam dockland architecture.
Fenix warehouse I is currently being transformed into an apartment complex with public services on the street level. After a huge restoration, Fenix II will be the place which tells the stories of millions of migrants, who arrived at and departed from these docks. With the transformation of Fenix warehouse II, we will create connections between Rotterdam and the world, between visitors and residents and between the original habitants of Katendrecht and newcomers.
'Historical Fenix warehouse in Rotterdam preserved'
The building itself and the surroundings of the Fenix warehouse are full of stories. From these docks, millions of people left Europe for the New World. And from elsewhere set foot in Rotterdam.
'From Rotterdam, Many Left for a New Life'
The story of these migrants will fill the entire first floor. An art collection has been created that displays the topic of ‘movement’. Works by internationally renowned artists is combined with contemporary art, photography and objects. The collection shows meaningful, evocative art which shows the universal story of migrants: the FENIX.
The ground floor will offer a mix of creative, culinary and cultural activities for the neighborhood, the city and its visitors. On the roof a viewpoint will offer 360 degrees view onto Rotterdam.
In 2017, the Municipality of Rotterdam decided to sell Fenix warehouse II to the Droom en Daad Foundation (press release).
The architect and the design has been announced in November 2018 by The Droom en Daad Foundation (press release). The planning and preparing for the renovation are ongoing. Current tenants of the warehouse have a temporary lease contract until the beginning of 2020. When the temporary lease expires, the renovation of the warehouse starts. This is done in an integral way due to the complexity of the building. The FENIX will open its door when its ready.
The Droom en Daad Foundation was established in 2016 to make the city of Rotterdam better and more beautiful. Droom en Daad invests in art and culture. One of the first initiatives of the foundation was to preserve and vitalize Fenix warehouse II to tell the stories of millions of migrants.
To this end, the Droom en Daad Foundation works together with City Archives Rotterdam, Maritime Museum, Museum Rotterdam, Nederlands Fotomuseum and Wereldmuseum. The Red Star Line Museum in Antwerpen, Ellis Island in New York (United States) and Pier 21 in Halifax (Canada) have also assured their cooperation.
For the restoration of the Fenix warehouse II, the Droom en Daad Foundation works together with Crimson Architectural Historians (historical research), Stadsherstel Historical Rotterdam and Bureau Polderman (restoration plan).