Architecture firm MVRDV experimented with a fresh approach to mixed-use development for the Markthal in Rotterdam, Netherlands, with an upside-down ‘U’ shape that wraps residences around an indoor market corridor. 

The $197 million, 311,000 square-foot development opened in October 2014 with 100 booths of fresh daily produce, 15 food shops (including an underground supermarket), and eight restaurants. A mural of brightly colored, super-sized fruits, vegetables, and flowers covering the arch above the market brings the space to life.

The development features 228 residential units, a mix of 102 apartments and 126 condos. Of those condos, 24 penthouses sprawl across the top of the arch with large roof terraces. All of the units have expansive glass fronts with balconies opening to the Rotterdam skyline, but only half have triple-glazed windows peering into the marketplace, providing a peek into the life below while separating tenants from the smells and sounds of the shops.

With 1,200 underground parking spaces and a subway station nearby, the developer Provast hopes to make arriving easy for the market’s expected 4.5 to 7 million visitors a year.