Even as I stepped out of Rotterdam Central train station, I was hit by it. This city is a plethora of shapes, colours and impossibly designed buildings. The station itself was a building that felt like any other modern transport hub and then coming out of the large glass front you realise its a striking triangular shape.
I’ve travelled to Amsterdam for a weekend and thought I knew what to expect of a city in the Netherlands. I was about to get an education!
From my very first impression, Rotterdam was like nowhere else. It is expressive and atypical of the usual small canals and Dutch townhouses. The wide open spaces of meeting squares and pedestrian areas are a big part of the city. The element of water is all around. Even away from the water front, there is a presence of water in this place below sea level. Its intriguing from the beginning.
I jumped straight on a tram and headed towards Blaak station. This was close to where my hotel was and I couldn’t wait to get checked in and explore more. I didn’t have long to wait until I saw the next architectural statement. Cube houses were what I encountered at the end of my tram ride. I love them!
The water front in Rotterdam is a skyline full of crazy buildings. They aren’t just skyscrapers, they are skyscrapers that defy gravity! The bridges around the city were a variety of modern and traditional. Erasmusbrug was my favourite and was flying flags of orange while I was visiting.
Every building, bridge and even open space told a story of reconstruction and breaking traditional rules.
Marthal was near my hotel and is the huge market food hall in the pedestrian area next to station Blaak. It has offices and apartments around the outer part, a huge colourful mural inside and massive open space of food sellers in the centre. It is a very different concept to any other marketplace I’ve seen before.
Museumplein, the area with a large number of museums and a park does not let the side down with architecture. Each building houses brilliant exhibits but are also innovative in themselves. Colours, materials and shapes are bold and passionate.
This thoroughly modern city has its pockets of historic architecture with Delfshaven at its heart. This is the last surviving area of old Rotterdam following the blitz during World War II. It is calm and beautiful with enough history in its two streets to give you a much deeper understanding of what happened to this city and who its people are.
Europe’s First Skyscraper Witte Huis, an eleven storey building, is still also part of this mixed architectural landscape. Its hard to believe that this was ground breaking in its time but another great story in the landscape.
Street art and sculptures add to the unique surroundings giving it a very cool, fun character. The street Witte De Withstraat is one of the alternative, artistic places in Rotterdam centre. I spent time each day here and had lunch. Its a fantastic place to chill out and take a stroll.
There is a freedom and fierce quality to the messages portrayed. Rotterdam definitely has a strong voice.
Giant sculptures of paint pots and other random objects can be found as well as inspirational monuments such as Triomphe. As well as the creative, art scene, this is also a foodie place. There are places popping up all over the city where you can get exceptional food in amazing spaces.
Regeneration has allowed the people of Rotterdam to make their mark on this place and forge an exciting, innovative future here.
Luchtsingel is a crowd funded bridge and walkway in Rotterdam. Another colourful structure shaping the landscape further. I love that this is collaborative and for the people. This pedestrian walkway connects and is hopefully going to continue throughout the city.
Colours and shapes and almost too playful to be adult. I feel like someone took the rule book on architecture and modern city building and tore it up! This place just does not conform. It is a regeneration that has pushed the boundaries and possibilities. There is an honesty and innovation to Rotterdam that I’ve rarely found in cities before. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to visit.
Have you visited Rotterdam? Would you like to explore this playground of architecture and art?