From grain silo to attractive venue

Once a location to store grains, Maassilo is now a multifunctional event space. Director Richard van Beusekom takes Inside Rotterdam on a tour through the concrete colossus that forms the backdrop to concerts, dance parties and many other events.

Richard van Beusekom claps his hands. “Hear that?” We’re standing in the main hall that has recently been insulated, and indeed, there are no reverberations. “It means Rotterdam now has another main concert stage. Artists who have outgrown the small stages but aren’t big enough for Ahoy find their spot here.” Not one to take the limelight, Van Beusekom lets the silo do the talking. We’re on the ground floor of the building, where massive reinforced concrete columns and ceiling funnels form the industrial decor of dance parties and a wide variety of events, from fashion shows to graduation ceremonies.

Construction for the silo started in 1906, and it was finished in three separate phases. First used as a nightclub in 2004, the legendary Now&Wow attracted partygoers from all over the country. In his role as manager, Van Beusekom got to know the building well. At the time, another part of the building was used for creative startups. During the financial crisis, Maassilo was hit hard, and the building became largely defunct. But Van Beusekom still believed in its potential, even though most of the undeveloped part was still grimy and rat-infested. “I saw many possibilities for the space, and in 2011, I asked the city for a chance to prove myself as director.”

Van Beusekom tackled renovations for one hall, then a second one, followed by the basement and the 10th floor. He also found new tenants for the ground floor office spaces. “Most of the creative companies weren’t doing great. I believe it’s because they had little connection to the neighbourhood. Now, we rent the office spaces to companies that operate in this area, which works. There’s a music studio as well, where Duncan Laurence recorded his winning song Arcade. Without our renovations, there would’ve been no Eurovision victory,” Van Beusekom jokes. He and his team are already planning two weeks of parties and fan-based events around the Eurovision madness landing there in May next year.

We take the elevator up to the 10th floor, where club Now&Wow moved back to a few years ago. It’s easy to see why the space with colourfully highlighted concrete and steel pipes appeals to partygoers. One flight up, there’s still a faint smell of grains coming from the concrete silos. We peek down into one of them. “Unfortunately, the bulk of the building consists of these silos. We have about three hundred of them. They are fifty metres tall and measure four by four metres, and cutting through these concrete walls is incredibly expensive. We’re thinking about what to do with them. A climbing wall perhaps?”

We end our tour on the rooftop, from where you can look out over the city, the centre to your right and the harbour on the left side. The roof is another area of the building for which Van Beusekom has big plans. “We’re talking about 6,000m2 of space, so we asked designers and architects to pitch ideas last year. The winning design proposed a loft with a glass floor protruding over the concrete rooftop. We hope to start work on it soon, because look at this.” Van Beusekom points to the view, which is indeed rather magnificent.

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