The Future Industry of Rotterdam


Hi all,
Writing to you from the former headquarters of the RDM shipyards....from a think-tank at Open-City Rotterdam.

Wanted to tap in to people who may be familiar with Rotterdam and its often slow-moving, inactive core. If you were to introduce a new industry here, to act as a magnet and attract people to the streets (and to linger there), what would it be?

I am thinking about this city as a design mecca - not only for its innovative built work, but for the designers and acts of design continuously flowing in and out of this place. The design interns, the architectural pilgrimages, the high-profile dutch firms that are located here....

Can a new industry arise around the designer's mecca? What would it be?

Is there a new opportunity for digital technologies to be heavily introduced in the city?

What about sustainable technologies for wind and solar energy?

Who knows this city?!

Aug 19, 09 5:42 am

A new industri, an innovative aproach. New jobs all of that ask guts and this is not the place to ask for that. These things must be created by visionary people, sorry but O warn people like that to go to this place. You can use your own judgement and filter out projects or idears but do not look here, only average and medium projects, idears that average students or lurkers can grasp, what some fame architect said decades ago will be used to hit those who dare think they are someone ontop their head with,--- they will be searchin long and steady for any negative as positive thinking is alian to this site. Be sure there are no drive for real newthinking, -- that's what you ask for, --youl'l be told fame stories about fame iconic architests and what they allready done, suggested to copy projects, but what you ask has been scared away long ago, fiersly and by the means of enourmous amount of treads spend. Remember 3dh after 4 years of bullying where the quality of arguments was not the issue, and even the concept was copied and several projects profited and architects who made anything but this suddenly turned 180 deg. and florished by means of inspiration , even at the end when some few finaly agreaed that the idea of computergenerated building structure, was realy a great idea, --- there was suddenly no interest, if the fun was over.
What you ask you will not find here.

Aug 19, 09 8:28 am  · 

Where is not the place to ask for that? On archinect or in Rotterdam?
We are confused by the response.
Do you live in Holland?

Aug 19, 09 9:01 am  · 

I visited Rotterdam for a week this summer!

It was cool. ^_^

Aug 19, 09 9:49 am  · 

WHY did you like it?

Aug 19, 09 10:02 am  · 

R'dam already has a flourishing design economy, with lots of architects and many designers using the warehouses and docklands that the traditional industrial economy left behind when they moved elsewhere. don't know what the original questions in the post have to do with 3D-aged though.

Aug 19, 09 11:21 am  · 

We are asking ourselves what an architecture, or design, tourism might consist of.

We note the current design economy and we see it as a large amenity. Is there a way to maximize it's potential?

Aug 19, 09 11:27 am  · 

is it possible that rotterdam thinks of "design" in a very broad sense, and only considers the specifics later? i'm throwing this out there - i was only in rotterdam for 2 days, so my sense of the city isn't sharp. but from what you are saying you seem to view rotterdam as a design center, but that is such a broad term. when visiting, i found pockets of design surrounded by very typical streets. fashion, product design, design research - the list goes on about the different things rotterdam architects and designers have dabbled in, but for the most part on an international platform. does this sense infiltrate into the city on a local level?

Aug 19, 09 12:20 pm  · 

Theater of every-day-life.

Aug 19, 09 10:14 pm  · 
Distant Unicorn

Line the streets with kegs of free PBR and every "design" professional in the US will be there tomorrow.

But in all honesty, design is just "design." It's the small people who make design a reality. I know very little about Rotterdam other than the insane racial clashes and immigration.

However, if Rotterdam is in industrial decline... it's going to be hard to have a design industry without to build it locally.

I mean while I'd love to visit a city that's got "good design" that are of the Netherlands is turning into America Jr. I do not really feel that motivated to visit a suburbanizing racial powderkeg or spend time there.

Outside of old stuffy architecture, architecture tourism is a muse of the wealthy. So, other than navel gazing... I've never heard of Rotterdam in any capacity as a place on a "must" visit list.

Your neighbors to the Northeast in Amsterdam however are an international tourist destination.

So, may Rotterdam's design industry could put a 21st century veener on drug use and prostitution.

What would a Koolhaus-designed whorehouse look like?

Aug 19, 09 11:06 pm  · 

Orochi you have very strong opinions about R'dam while you admit you know very little about the city. Why should R'dam try to imitate Amsterdam and prostitute their city into a dead open air museum? And about all that drugs and prostitution, because it is legalized it is controlled much better, lesser organized crime and exploitation of women. Because let's be honest it's human nature to use drugs and have paid sex. Having travelled quite a bit here and there I have to say that drugs and prostitution are a global phenomenon(no consumer experience though), although in most countries it is illegal, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Aug 20, 09 6:06 am  · 

What's the significance of those images, randomized?

Aug 20, 09 8:55 am  · 
What would a Koolhaus-designed whorehouse look like?
Aug 20, 09 8:56 am  · 
Distant Unicorn

Uh randomized,

Fekete, Liz. "Anti-Muslim Racism and the European Security State." Race Class, 2004; 46; 3

In the Netherlands, following a campaign by Liveable Rotterdam, Rotterdam Council asked the Moroccan community to modernise its architectural plan for a new mosque in order to incorporate a ‘concept of integration’. The original was considered ‘too Arabic’ or, as the Rotterdam mayor helpfully put it, ‘the dissemination of faith is sometimes expressed more by reserved, rather than explicit dissemination’.

Bolt, G. Hooimeijer, P. van Kempen, R. "Ethnic segregation in the Netherlands: new patterns, new policies?" TIJDSCHRIFT VOOR ECONOMISCHE EN SOCIALE GEOGRAFIE. 2002, v. 93; pt. 2, pp. 214-220

Ethnic changes in Dutch cities, 1995-1998

Segregation is certainly present, and is markedly stronger in Rotterdam and The Hague than in Amsterdam or Utrecht, but it is certainly not the case that the groups distinguished only live in a few neighbourhoods while the rest of the city is not accessible. It is also clear that in general Turks and Moroccans display a stronger segregation than other groups, such as Surinamese and Antilleans.


Only in The Hague (often called the most segregated city of the Netherlands) was there any sign of a decline in the segregation of the different groups. In the other three big cities there is evidence of a fairly stable level of segregation.


While in Amsterdam and Utrecht the early post-war areas had already experienced a sizeable input of ethnic minority groups, in the second half of the 1990s the early post-war parts of Rotterdam and The Hague also had an increasing inflow of ethnic minority groups. At the same time the importance of the older districts in various cities as housing areas for ethnic minority groups has decreased. Ethnic minority groups have hardly penetrated the newer residential areas in the city or the suburban residential areas outside it.

Karsten, Sjoerd. "Policy on ethnic segregation in a system of choice: the case of The Netherlands." Journal of Education Policy, 1464-5106, V. 9, I. 3, 1994, pp. 211 – 225.

This paper examines the implications of the uneven distribution of minority pupils and the Dutch system of choice for policies on ethnic segregation at both the local and school level. The analysis is based on a sample of 27 municipalities serving 23% of all Dutch primary school pupils. Segregation to a large extent can be found in The Netherlands as elsewhere, and the constitutional freedom of education is precisely the factor that places important restrictions on solving this problem adequately. At the local level more than one-third of all municipalities, for various reasons, do not take any action. Of the others that do take action the majority saddles the schools with the responsibility since the problems are mainly seen as of an educational nature. According to the school principals a percentage of minority pupils exceeding 50-60% causes 'white' parents to leave and they are given every opportunity to do so by the Dutch system of free parental choice. Therefore a radical reorientation is required in the Dutch system of choice in order to address the challenges of ethnic segregation.

Ethnic clashes? Check. Suburbanizing population? Check. Bottoming out of industry? Check. Relocating children to "better schools?" Check. Artificial and physical divisions? Check. Anyone denying or saying white flight wasn't a significant factor to the development should really investigate the Netherlands.

HUR DUR, starting to smell a lot like America up in here. Fix your social problems instead of trying to paint over them.
Aug 20, 09 12:12 pm  · 

The thing is that Rotterdam is a harbour city, with all the pros and cons attached to it. The harbour itself (a bulk transistion harbour) is, as far as I know of, is still growing - check the Havenplan 2020 for instance. Currently, it's the second largest in the world, only Shanghai has more goods. So in that essence, Rotterdam already has a valid spot within the economic fabric of the Netherlands (and/or Europe).

Also it's a thriving cultural city. It has a collection of good museums and galleries (Boymans van Beuningen, Witte de With, NAi, Kunsthal; some good "breeding places" for design firms (oa the Van Nelle-fabriek), schools for art, design, architecture, fashion; festivals like the architecture biennale, rotterdam film festival and all that.

So I don't necessary think that the industrial decay or the lack of design culture/industry is a problem in Rotterdam.

And yes, in certain areas of the city there are racial tensions, loads of poverty and all that. And however important it is to try and get those things solved, it is just inherent to a larger city, I believe.

Personally, I get the feeling that the thing that is "wrong" with Rotterdam has to do with the atmosphere in the city. The fact that rotterdam was largely destroyed in the second world war. In the years afterwards, the city had to be rebuilt rather quickly. And, ironically, the city wasn't destroyed enough to actually start the city centre anew... That being said, the problem with the city at the moment is that it doesn't play to it's strengths. For instance, compare it with Hamburg. The kop van Zuid-area in Rotterdam has seen strong development, but nowhere near enough to gain a real "urban/centre" area on the southside of the river. And the city centre (in the north) doesn't really interact with the waterfront - where I think a strong attraction could lie.
Other than that, the urban space of Rotterdam is just wrong. Mainly in dimensions. Not enough built area in comparison to the public space, making for a ghastly, empty space (for instance when you come from the station and head toward the blaak).

So, in my view, the "solution" for Rotterdam doesn't lie in the branding of a city as a design capital. Or as a film capital. Or as a sports capital. Or as a music capital. Like any true city, it should focus on all of it. Just densifying in the centre, instead of the vast emptyness of the public space. It doesn't have a historic cute-ness, but that shouldn't be a problem to be a succesful city with people on the streets.

Aug 20, 09 2:15 pm  · 

Orochi, I didn't object your issues with racial/ethnic tensions, but thanks for the lecture in sociology. fyi did you know Mohammed is the most popular name given to newborn boys in Holland, and that R'dam has the first mayor in Holland from Moroccan descent (although not democratically chosen, but appointed)

Aug 21, 09 5:36 am  · 

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