Oostplein Rotterdam: the square that doesn’t become a real square? Should we build or should we make it a square? A short report of the International workshop Reconstructing Urbanity.

 

The International workshop Reconstructing Urbanity, focused on the Eastern innercity of Rotterdam, called the Hoogkwartier. David Dooghe was a tutor during this workshop and his group focussed on the Oostplein, once defined as “the square that doesn’t become a real square.” The group was subdivided and two alternatives for the square were explored, named: City Gate and The Square.

The workshop was organised by the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture and Urban design, Braunschweig University of Technology, Brittany National College of Architecture and Gdansk University of Technology.

 

reconstructing web

Presentation final results at Museum Rotterdam, picture Frederik Poll

 

Oostplein

The Oostplein is space at the edge of the city centre. It touches several neighbourhoods and combines multiple transport lines (tram, metro, bus, car, bike, pedestrian). It is furthermore one of the car entrances from the highway to the inner city.

During several centuries, this square had a city-gate, where you entered the city of Rotterdam. But after the city grew bigger, the old city wall was broken down, and so was the gate.

The square has currently very little identity. It has been cut in two by a street. One part has a marine monument and opens to an old harbor; the other part has a simple park and behind the pump station a canal. The tramlines, traffic lights and metro station at the centre of Oostplein are outdated.

 

City Gate

The first alternative looked at the maximum volume that could be built on the square. In the plinth of the building ‘City Gate’, catering, shopping or cultural services should be located, on top of this plinth family or student housing in different volumes.

The building had the following advantages: it divided the cars, busses and trams traffic and the bike and pedestrian traffic and it divided the large space in two squares, one near the old harbor and square connecting the shops in the Hoogstraat with the cafes at the street. By putting the pump station of the canal in the new building, a vista on the water was created from the pedestrian area.

By adding program and defining the space in two squares, each with it’s own atmosphere, the building increased the identity of the location.

See the video here

 

The Square

The second alternative explored the option to improve the public space and create ‘The Square’. The name is a reference to the Rotterdam habit of giving general names to locations, other examples are ‘The Central Station’ or ‘The Park’.

To start, the group looked at the car traffic at the whole city scale and concluded that some streets could be removed. By doing so the car dominance at the location lowered. Secondly, larger structures, such as the green area along the Burgemeester van Walsumweg and the water structures such as the canal and the old harbor were ‘pulled’ into the new square. This in order to better connect the square to its surrounding location. Lastly, program was added to the square, by means of pavilions, such as a new entrance to metro, a covered marketplace, a maker space and connected shop. The maker space and shop were chosen as a program to support the currently many smaller workspaces and ateliers in the area and make their products more visible for the general public.