Beyond its demure exterior, which is clad in the same gray stone that paves the adjacent square, the Markthal Rotterdam, like a ripe fruit sliced open, reveals its rich offerings inside. The hall is the result of a city competition to combine housing and parking with a covered market, in hopes of activating the historic Laurenskwartier neighborhood. “The Netherlands has no market culture, so we’re trying to breed that and update it,” explains MVRDV principal Winy Maas. The team took the model of an emporium flanked by two housing blocks and flipped it, creating an arched concrete volume that holds 228 apartments, some with surprisingly placed windows looking down to the lively market floor below. Animating the 130-foot-high, 400-foot-long vault is Horn of Plenty by local artists Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam. The work, a high-resolution digital print, is applied to thousands of perforated aluminum panels and, in referring to 17th-century Dutch still life, depicts a surreal world of supersize produce and insects. “This pop environment was our dream,” says Maas. “It’s a piece of urbanism more than it is a piece of architecture, because it gives space to the people.”