By Alejandro Izquierdo and Morten Refsgaard
If you like the cosiness of Amsterdam or Utrecht with their cafés, canals and cathedrals, Rotterdam might not be the place for you.
Rotterdam is like Amsterdam’s eccentric little sister. Where ever you go, you see men in orange pants and hard top hats. It seems like everything in Rotterdam is under development and that nothing is really finished.
From the minute you step out on the platform of Rotterdam Central Station you are met with fences, machinery and workers. The future of the Station is no longer just a point of hundreds of thousands travellers every day. It will become a pedestrian friendly shopping and business hub.
Not far from the station is the yellow themed Test Site Rotterdam, where the cultural and creative class will find the physical and mental space to flourish. This is the home of all that is hip, all that is trendy.
On the edge of the Test Site is the rooftop garden. Popping up in major cities all over the World, of course this phenomenon has also come to Rotterdam. Here a team of urban gardeners are nursing for vegetables and herbs to the benefit of investors, local restaurants and the climate.
High rising on the harbor
As the harbor of Rotterdam has slowly moved out of the city, the old waterfront has become available for other uses. Where ships used to dock to bring fortune seekers to America or to ship containers back and forth from every corner of the World, high rise buildings are now growing on every free spot. This has earned the old harbor the delightfully pretentious nick name “The Manhattan on the Mass”.
Other use of the old harbor is seen further along the river Mass. The Hogeschool Rotterdam has set up campus in an old dry dock. Obsolete office buildings and warehouses have become class rooms, auditoriums and practical work spaces for students.
All in all, Rotterdam has a certain chaotic, almost neurotic feeling surrounding it. Nothing is done and everything is still under construction. It seems the city is in a state of schizophrenia where it cannot decide, what it is and what it should be. Is it a city of international shipping, industry and economy, a centre of knowledge, culture and education or a haven for eco friendly hipsters? Hopefully Rotterdam will never figure it out and just stay pleasantly insane.