Dutch artist, architect, and one-man collective Atelier Van Lieshout (Joep van Lieshout) is well known for his provocative sculptures and anti-capitalist views that frequently show up in his work. Now, Lieshout has partnered with developer RED Company to design a Brutalist “inspired” neighborhood in Rotterdam.
Lieshout, who himself is headquartered in Amsterdam and the portside M4H area specifically, is co-financing the project with RED Company and Redwood Capital Investments and NIBC Investment Partners. The mixed-use BRUTUS, aptly named after the style that Lieshout is designing the towers “after” (the buildings aren’t really Brutalist but bare more than a passing resemblance to top-heavy Soviet-era towers) will spring up around the current location of Lieshout’s studio. The artist has been buying parcels of land in M4H since 2008 and displaying his own work and others through the nonprofit AVL Mundo Foundation there, and BRUTUS will incorporate permanent galleries for the foundation. Lieshout’s workshop will also remain, complete with a transparent facade to put the production of large-scale installations within on public display.
More than just a place to display art, though, the 75,000-square-foot BRUTUS is being envisioned as a live-work community for creatives. That includes three residential towers with 750 affordable units split between them; the tallest will top out at 459 feet, the second at 295 feet, and the shortest will come in at 180 feet tall. All three structures are being designed via a collaboration between Lieshout and the Rotterdam-based Powerhouse Company, and the massing of each is intended to reference Lieshout’s balance of heft and form to create tension in his sculptures, while using an industrial facade texture as a nod to the area’s industrial history.
Aside from an art depot for storage, BRUTUS will feature a 14,531-square-foot gallery exclusively for displaying large-scale and monumental works in solo exhibitions, which museums have shied away from in recent years. Lieshout’s finished work will also be on display in “The Maze,” an aptly titled 24,218-square-foot gallery-slash-actual-maze that will show sculptures, objects, and designs from across the artist’s 35-year career in a winding collection of tunnels, hallways, staircases, “traps,” and nooks. Inside, each piece of art will be newly recontextualized by both the intentionally difficult to navigate space and each’s positioning alongside other works.
Outside, a collection of ramps and staircases will connect all of the buildings. An open-air movie theater (in addition to a regular theater) and sculpture garden will be set into the landscape.
BRUTUS is currently awaiting approval from the city of Rotterdam and the development team hopes to break ground sometime in 2023, with an opening date in 2025.