Rotterdam was recently famed by the Lonely Planet as one of the world’s top ‘must-see’ cities and has been coined as a ‘city of the future’. It’s home to architectural and technological developments that seem to project it far into the future. But what is it that invites such a fresh and vibrant atmosphere?
Particularly over the last few years, Rotterdam’s architectural landscape has skyrocketed, sending out beacons of inspiration to designers of all kinds. With the additions of De Rotterdam and the new train station (by Benthem Crouwel, MVSA and West 8) the city offers a space in which anything seems possible. To a designer, Rotterdam is a canvas of limitless exploration.
Architect De Graaf suggests that this is due to it’s lack of visible history. Cities such as Venice and Amsterdam are culturally rich and visibly beautiful, however their established core of rich history does not allow for such playful imaginings that take place in Rotterdam. Having been largely demolished throughout the period of the second world war, the city center was left in a mass of rubble, thus the city has quite literally grown from the roots up. It’s cityscape, rather than presenting the past, projects to the future, offering intellectual freedom and a sense of improvisational character.
Consequently, sustainable innovations are continuously being sprouted on its fertile soil. Numerous studios exist across the city experimenting with floating architecture, robotic construction, wind power, lighting innovation and 3D printing. Duzan Doepel of MVRDV partnered up with Eline Strijkers to create Doepel Strijkers studio. The duo have proposed one such innovation to be situated on Rotterdam’s waterfront. The conceptual design shows a huge circular wind turbine that doubles up as an apartment block and a hotel. Such broad, progressive designs are encouraged and provoked by the futuristic nature of the city; asserted by the city government's backing of the project.
Beyond Rotterdam’s position as an architectural canvas, Van Rijs suggests that the futuristic allure of the city can be credited to a government initiative which sells off dilapidated houses at a low cost, on the agreement that the new owners invest a certain amount in renovations.
Whether it be the ever-changing horizon, or the progressive attitude of the local government, an experimental atmosphere can be found in every aspect of the city. From the ambience of the nightlife, to the developments on the waterfront, the vibrance of this bright city makes itself apparent.
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