'Sci-fi food hall' opens in Netherlands

By Barry Neild, CNNPublished 13th October 2014
It looks like a portal to another dimension crafted from alien technology to bridge yawning chasms across time and space.
In reality, it's a fruit and vegetable market.
Either way, it's unlikely that anyone could fail to be excited by the prospect of loading up on groceries at Markthal, a combined food hall and housing project that opened earlier this month in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam.
The development, already feted by architecture critics, houses 100 market stalls beneath a gigantic, brightly decorated archway that contains 228 apartments.
Informally known as the "Horseshoe," the impressive structure adds to the limited roster of attractions in Rotterdam.
To date the city's chief tourism claims are that it's the busiest container port in Europe and is home to the Netherlands' most popular zoo.
'Valhalla of food'
Designed by Dutch architectural firm MVRDV, Markthal is a key project in a major regeneration of the city center around Rotterdam's Binnenrotte Square.
The building is described in promotional materials as a "Valhalla of food."
"The combination of an apartment building covering a fresh food market with food shops, restaurants, a supermarket and an underground parking is found nowhere else in the world," it says.
It's certainly a first for the Netherlands.
The archway, closed at either end by vast walls of glass, is the country's only indoor food market and has been built in response to new regulations that require produce retailers to be under cover.
So it's functional and street legal as well as eye-popping.