NIO House Rotterdam

The purity of minimalism with a Rotterdam twist: MVRDV designs first NIO House in the Netherlands for electric car company

NIO House Rotterdam, the first location in the Netherlands for the electric car manufacturer NIO, is now open. With an interior design by MVRDV, the store mixes the rugged and bold expression of the city of Rotterdam with the sophisticated yet warm aesthetic of the NIO brand. At the same time, it embraces NIO’s signature approach to its retail locations – which incorporate welcoming elements including a café, lounge, children’s play area, forum, work rooms, and art display – to create a flexible interior space that contributes to the vitality of its location on one of the city’s most prestigious shopping streets.

Situated among the cafés and clothing stores of Meent, NIO House Rotterdam uses moving elements to take full advantage of its location in a corner unit alongside a canal. While the main façade onto the street provides a showcase for the company’s cars, the side façade can be opened thanks to sliding windows and the café bar inside can be extended through these open windows to create a canal-side outdoor café on sunny days. Meanwhile, the most prominent corner makes space for a “hero view” of one of the cars, with the wall behind it providing a backdrop of artworks.

The separation between the gallery at the front of the store – where visitors can learn about NIO’s range of cars – and the welcoming clubhouse at the rear is apparent thanks to a gradient in the colour of the floor and walls, which gradually transform from white to a warm caramel. This is achieved with a terrazzo-like material known as The Good Floor, which recycles plastic pollution that is recovered from the Maas river nearby. In fact, throughout the design, the materials provide a sustainable twist on NIO’s typical material palette: in addition to the recycled plastic terrazzo, the design uses sustainability-certified wood with a bio-based coating, carpets and upholstery with 100% natural fibres, and vegan leather.

Raw, exposed concrete columns and ruggedly engineered details provide touches of Rotterdam character to accentuate the pure and minimalist NIO vision. At the heart of the space is a long communal “crane table” where visitors can drink their coffee, chat with others, and work on their laptops. Suspended on pulleys, this table is easily lifted out of the way to make a forum space, while movable partitions can also slide into place to define a space for presentations, workshops, and lectures.

Complementing the white and caramel colours of the main space, the design incorporates a series of accent colours into its specialised spaces that unite the NIO brand and the character of Rotterdam. Alongside the crane table is a lounge space complete with blue furniture; behind the main space are two meeting rooms with warm red accents; finally, next to these meeting rooms is a play space or “joy camp” for children completed in a bright yellow.

“Combining the style of NIO with the attitude of the city of Rotterdam seems at first like a difficult challenge”, says MVRDV founding partner Jacob van Rijs. “Yet the more we thought about the character of both, the more overlap we saw. Underpinning both NIO’s and Rotterdam’s distinctive styles are a sense of optimism and progressivism. It’s this belief in – and comfort around – continuous change that inspired the design’s flexibility, from the table that rises up to the ceiling when not needed to the café bar that extends out into the street. Flexibility and adaptability are what we need in this day and age.”

The project is the second NIO House designed by MVRDV, following NIO House Chongqing, which opened in 2019.

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