The Markthal Rotterdam, the first indoor market and housing development in the Netherlands, opened in October, 2014 after five years of construction at a total estimated cost of €175 million. Designed by Dutch architects MVRDV, the arch-shaped structure houses a bustling indoor fresh-food market surrounded by restaurants, food shops and hospitality units topped with 10 stories of 228 distinctive apartments. During the day it serves as central market hall, and after hours, the hall becomes an enormous, covered, well-lit public space.
A mural by Dutch artists Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam decorates the inner walls of the 40-meter-high arch. Titled “Horn of Plenty,” the mural brings to life a colossal, colorful array of fruits, vegetables, flowers and insects with a nod to the work of 17th century Dutch still life masters. The larger-than-life mural conveys the desired effect using Valspar’s coatings and a sublimation printing process on 4,000 perforated aluminum panels. Encompassing 11,000 square meters, the mural has earned such nicknames as the “biggest artwork in the world” and the “Sistine Chapel of Rotterdam.”
“To help the mural’s imagery pop with color and crispness, Valspar's white polyester powder coatings were used as the first coat on the 2 mm aluminum panels -essentially serving as the gesso on the canvas. Following this critical first coat, Valspar's clear polyurethane powder coating was applied, a scratch-resistant, anti-graffiti coating that helps protect against both human and natural elements,” explained Massimo Meda, Valspar’s architectural manager in Europe.
Meda added, “Valspar’s coatings were chosen for their high resistance to chemicals and ultraviolet rays to ensure their artistry remains for many years. The combination of these two coating systems enhances the overall vibrancy of the mural’s sublimated decor and delivers an impressive impact on the viewer.”
Once Valspar’s coatings were applied, the panels underwent the sublimation process where the design was applied to the aluminum panels by TS Visuals. Heated to a high temperature, the ink of the printed design turns into a gas and then penetrates the coated panel to form a solid, durable layer that protects and decorates the material. The finished panels were then paired with acoustic backers for enhanced noise control.
Acoustic comfort and durability are increasingly important to sustainable building designs. Incorporating these and other green design principles, Markthal Rotterdam has earned a "Very Good" rating from BREEAM®, an international certification program for sustainable buildings.
Accenting health, wellness and bountiful harvests, the mural’s representation in physical medium is further complemented with the digital. A high-definition projection displays a cosmic vortex of food resembling the Milky Way that slowly rotates massive images above the visitors. Up to 7 million visitors are expected each year to Markthal Rotterdam as a new destination in Rotterdam, one of Europe’s main ports and industrial cities.