True Colours | 24H design contest

In May 2020, Stylos organised the first online 24H design contest. With speakers of Mecanoo, MVRDV, Vitibuck, AIR en Gemeente Rotterdam, 10 groups could create a design for the Maashaven in Rotterdam within 24 hours. The jury chose two winners this year. Pieter Tilman and Olivia Meng, from one of the two winning groups, tell about their design.

During the 24H-contest by DBSG Stylos we created a framework to facilitate in participation for the development in the Maashaven in Rotterdam. The proposal was awarded with the first prize by the jury together with another proposal. The jury praised our project for its unique view on the term “iconic” and how it focusses on integrating local inhabitants within the development.

True Colours transforms the Maashaven in Rotterdam South from dull and grey to colourful, vibrant, and mixed-use. Colouring the buildings creates an attractive, iconic, and positive look which reflects the neighbourhood’s colourful diversity. Directly tackling local issues such as unemployment, low level of education, and low accessibility to social structure, the strategy for growth revolves around one question: what’s in it for them? The framework created will facilitate bottom-up participation. The toolbox gives inhabitants the possibility to access and create spaces that serve them. Within six years, Rotterdam-South and its people will transform the Maashaven to show its true colours.

The first step in the framework is defining the function of the new development. The colour of the building is defined by its function. The second step is connecting, during this step the new development is integrated within the community. By embedding each new development within the social structures of the Maashaven the community grows. The third step is adapting the physical structure of the buildings. By picking a type of spatial organisation each building can adapt to its new function. The final step is cultivating the environment around the buildings. Through a selection process by the community the type of public space is defined. Through this process a colourful community is created by the inhabitants of Rotterdam-South.

We thoroughly enjoyed the competition and would like to thank all the speakers for their inspiring lectures and the organizing committee for their efforts.


To see all imagery of this project or other projects we have been working on: see and

By: Olivia Meng and Pieter Tilman