How to make a neighborhood future-proof and at the same time take a leap in quality of its development by better connecting bottom-up and top-down projects? City Lab as an independent intermediary platform for urban development.

City Labs
The Fund Creative Industry NL defines City Labs as follows:
“City labs have the potential to operate as an independent intermediary platform, to connect top-down and bottom-up partners, to organize the necessary support and to steer the enthusiasm and energy from society in the right direction. With public actions and spatial interventions they contribute in their own way to the development of village, city and country. At the same time, they can function as a sounding board for local government and contribute constructively to spatial and social agendas.”


stadslab View web

picture Jan Nass

City Lab Cool-Zuid 2016-2017
Cool-Zuid is located in the center of Rotterdam, surrounded by the Museum Quarter, the core shopping area, the Maritime District and Kop van Zuid. In 2016, the designers Joost van Dijk and Frederik Poll started the Stadslab Baankwartier, part of the Cool-Zuid district. The trigger was the constructions plans of various high rise residential towers. Due to the towers, the number of houses triples the quarter, from 500 to 1500. How could these new developments improve the qualities of the existing area?

As the impact of the planned towers would be larger than just the Baankwartier, the Stadslab expanded with the surrounding neighborhood Cool-Zuid in 2017. This expansion also led to new challenges. The western part of Cool-Zuid is a neighborhood built around 1860, with a number of townhouses along the edges, such as the Schiedamsesingel, the Kortenaerstraat and the Eendrachtsweg and social housing inside.

With the arrival of the new residential towers in the Baankwartier, a new, more well-off residential environment will be added to the district. As a result, there is a risk that the social divide in the Cool-Zuid neighborhood will increase. In addition, the entertainment area of the Witte de Withstraat has expanded considerably in recent years and is at odds with the adjacent residential area. The main objective of Stadslab Cool-Zuid 2017 was therefore: "Connecting, both social and spatial, the Baankwartier and the western part of Cool-Zuid, whereby the entire area can benefit from the new high rise developments in the Baankwartier. This in order to result in a united, resilient and serene urban residential area in the center of Rotterdam. "


StadslabCoolZuid web



City Lab Cool-Zuid 2018-2019
The attention that the City Lab has generated over the past two years has not gone unnoticed. The district shows a large group of residents and entrepreneurs who want to be involved. A delegation of this group, together with various civil servants working for the planning, cultural or social departments, have joined the design team. Together with designer Talea Bohlander, David Dooghe took over the general organization of the City Lab from the earlier initiators.

It is one of the goals of the design team to professionalize the organization of the City Lab. The core team of the City Lab should guarantee an integrated approach to future developments (buildings, facilities and public space), this in order to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood or at least to keep it at the same level.

The second goal is to make the neighborhood future-proof as to create a leap in (spatial, environmental, social and economic) quality.

Now the building of high-rise of the residential towers in Cool-Zuid is starting, the City Lab wants to make earlier harvested ideas specific through interventions and experiments, set up or supported by the City Lab. For the short term, the City Lab will continue to organize neighborhood meetings to debate these interventions and experiments and invite partners to participate.


LOVI Cool-Zuid

Currently, the Municipality is faced with the complex task of formulating a new zoning plan and Municipal Environmental Vision (GOVI). More than earlier visions, an integrated development of a location and the cooperation with local actors is key for this vision. As Cool-Zuid is located in the heart of Rotterdam and faces many complex, urban challenges (densification, mobility, need for services, social divide, water management, energy transition, ...), it is selected as a pilot project for the development of this GOVI.

Therefore, for the long term development, the City Lab cooperates closely with the Municipality in the development of a new product: a Lokale OmgevingsVisie (LOVI, Local Environmental Vision). This LOVI needs to provide sufficient support for a future-proof further development of the district. Lessons from the interventions and experiments will be input for the LOVI.


The Fund Creative Industries NL, as a part of the Open Call City Labs, supports this project.