Rotterdam is a humble city thanks to the intelligence of all those who have been renovating it since it was bombed during World War II. Architects and urban planners who understand and know that you don’t fight against the forces of nature. That they have turned the use of water and wind into a virtue, which on the ground translates into a resilient city. Without this adaptation to the environment that prevents it from sinking, through dams and water management, the iconic buildings that Roterdameans boast so much about and admire by visitors, who, if it were not for the restrictions of the pandemic, would not be conceived. would crowd its streets in the coming days, because from May 18 to 22 this port town in the Netherlands welcomes the Eurovision Song Contest.
Located in the delta drawn by the New Meuse and Rhine rivers, Rotterdam occupies a land area of 206 square kilometers and a water surface of 114. An amphibious city crossed by bridges and served by boats that act as taxis and buses. In this half-liquid, half-tarry environment emerges a giant shark fin made of stainless steel. It is the Central Station, the gateway to this architectural laboratory city – from Amsterdam it takes an hour by train.
After the bombings by the Nazi air force on May 14, 1940, the historic center was turned into a rubbish tip. A smoking ruin that the survivors saw as an opportunity. A wasteland in which, rather than building buildings of modern, functionalist and socialist architecture (which was also done), it was used to renew the urban physiognomy. The ideologues of that renovation saw on the architectural horizon an aerodynamic Rotterdam that knew how to preserve what little was left standing: the Gothic church of San Lorenzo and the eclectic city hall are two of the historic buildings that were saved. Before the destructive Nazi flood, modern constructions had already been designed: the White House —A late 19th-century building whose 45-meter height made it, for a time, the roof of Europe — as well as a number of buildings from the 1930s. Among them, the Van Nelle tea, coffee and tobacco factory; the Casa Sonneveld, and the museos de arte Boijmans Van Beuningen y Chabot. Designs that exploit light and space to which were added others who also know how to make use of wind and water. Elements that made the old peripheral mill turn barrio de Delfshaven, on the north bank of the New Meuse. The Pilgrim Fathers were in this place before continuing to America aboard the Mayflower.
The sea and travel are two constants that beat in the city. In the plaza de Schouwburg Red metal cranes stand up and, along with the nearby Maritime Museum, appear to sustain a port culture that Rotterdam is reluctant to lose.
Getting lost is what one can do in that forest of houses that are the Cubic Houses (Kubuswoningen), yellow and inclined 45 degrees, by the Dutch architect Piet Blom. Market hall It is a horseshoe-shaped market where food stalls and houses coexist. The inner arch is covered by an 11,000 square meter digital canvas representing fruits, vegetables and vegetables. A Sistine Chapel made by computer scientists in 2014 that has no place in the Art Depot: the new warehouse of works of art located in the Museumpark. The collections that museums display are the tip of the iceberg, the funds are the submerged part. This mirror-lined ovoid tank will expose what the Museo Boijmans; the MVRDV studio project is already finished and is scheduled to open in July.
The bridges here look like works of art and connect the two banks of the New Meuse River. In its waters floats the isla the Noordere, which avoids isolation thanks to Willems and Koninginne bridges, from where you can see the De Hef railway bridge, which ran part of the old line between Rotterdam and Dordrecht. Although it is Erasmus’s that you have to cross from the center of the city to enter the barrio de Kop van Zuid. Here were the docks from which the ships full of emigrants set sail for America. Today, among the lively businesses that occupy the empty docks, the Art Nouveau from the New York hotel, the Nederlands Fotomuseum and the triple skyscraper of Rotterdam, a design by local architect and guru Rem Koolhaas. Three connected towers of 44 floors each and that give the feeling of being six. Is a town vertically that houses offices, apartments and the NHow hotel.
Two futuristic projects
This building takes the name of the place where it rises and that of one of those ships that crossed the Atlantic full of people fleeing or looking for new opportunities. In honor of those people from Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Germany, mainly, who made a stopover in Rotterdam between 1880 and 1920 on their way to America, the Museum of Emigration is scheduled to open its doors in 2023. An old hangar of the muelle de Katendrecht turned into a hybrid space. It will tell the story of these trips and display an artistic collection inspired by migrations. The futuristic design is the work of the Chinese studio MAD, a nod to the fact that it is located in what used to be the oldest Chinatown in Europe.
In the near future the new Maritime Center in the puerto de Rijnhaven. The center symbolizes a triple helix that represents the past, present and future of the maritime world, and from a business, scientific and cultural perspective. A structure of three pavilions connected by catwalks that will have a part under water. It will be at low tide when this submerged section can be seen. Meanwhile, in those same waters floats a park made up of tree-lined platforms made from plastics thrown in the New Meuse. There is no sustainability without recycling.
The resilience of Rotterdam and the people of Rotterdam, more than survival instinct, is knowing how to float. It has to do with that centuries-old and heritage relationship they have with water. Element that enriches and beautifies the city.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.