Why You’ll Want to Visit Rotterdam

Home to the largest and busiest port in Europe, the Netherlands’ “second city” is now attracting a fleet of designers, artists and architects who are reshaping the Dutch city into an epicenter of urban innovation

 

 

FOUR YEARS AGO, Daan Roosegaarde wanted to build the world’s largest vacuum cleaner. The artist-architect envisioned a 23-foot-tall air purifier powerful enough to suck up pollution from city parks using about as much electricity as a plug-in teakettle. Families, couples and friends could breathe easy in the soot-free oxygen surrounding his Smog Free Tower. The only trouble was finding someone willing to fund the machine’s construction. “Sometimes somebody comes with a question, and sometimes we ask ourselves a question,” says 38-year-old Roosegaarde, lanky, blond and amply caffeinated on a stormy afternoon in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, where his studio is headquartered in a former glass factory near the banks of the Nieuwe Maas River. “Balancing that allows you to find the space to experiment.”

Instead of waiting for a client to provide funding for a prototype, he turned to the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. His Smog Free Project went live in July 2015, and within weeks, backers had pledged more than double the requested €50,000 (about $57,000). Roosegaarde and his team of designers, scientists and engineers got to work, using a grassy patch outside the studio’s back door as a laboratory. They constructed a wind-fueled, ventilated tower that harnesses positive ionization to clean a football stadium’s worth of air in a couple of days. Citizens of Rotterdam came to visit the sculptural contraption, picnicking beside it just as Roosegaarde had imagined. Roosegaarde was already known in the Netherlands for projects like a sustainable dance floor that generates electricity through movement and a van Gogh–inspired bike path that glows at night, and his star continued to climb.

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Credits: By  Megan Conway, The Wall Street Journal

 

Images; Watertaxi  Roel Dijkstra Fotografie / Foto Fred LibochantRotterdam / SS Rotterdam

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Rotterdam: Holland’s infamous port city may be the hippest place in the country

Published 

 The Globe and Mail

 

Temples of gastronomy are not something you necessarily expect in Holland. In general, the country’s food rep leans to the stodgy and the tuberous.

But the quirky idea of building a food market shaped like an inverted U that incorporates apartments in its arch – residents’ windows peeking out of a giant raspberry or avocado in the hallucinatory ceiling mural – is thoroughly Dutch, a typical mix of playfulness and practicality.

The new tunnel-shaped Markthal in Rotterdam is designed by edgy local architecture firm MVRDV. It’s part of a new wave of exciting building projects in the last year or so that has given us a Rotterdam 2.0 of sorts. A city that, formerly, barely registered with travellers, the Dutch port is now on many a must-see list for its unique design sensibility.

Long known for drug alleys, broad daylight hookers and other inevitabilities of being the biggest port city in Europe, Rotterdam is now the hippest place in Holland. With scores of Amsterdammers coming here to party and a maker mindset that evolved out of necessity, it is a place of non-stop design and innovation.

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 Rotterdam: Holland’s infamous port city

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The-Markthal’s-Horn-of-Plenty-by-Arno-Coenen-and-Iris-Roskam-is-the-largest-artwork-in-the-Netherlands.-Photography-by-Ossip-van-Duivenbode
The-Markthal’s-Horn-of-Plenty-by-Arno-Coenen-and-Iris-Roskam-is-the-largest-artwork-in-the-Netherlands.-Photography-by-Ossip-van-Duivenbode
Terrace-at-the-Old-Port-Rotterdam’s-oldest-port-in-the-centre-of-the-city.-Photography-by-Jan-Bijl
Terrace-at-the-Old-Port-Rotterdam’s-oldest-port-in-the-centre-of-the-city.-Photography-by-Jan-Bijl
Unique-or-eye-catching-architecture-is-not-hard-to-come-by-in-Rotterdam-like-Daan-Roosegaardes-Smog-Free-Tower.-Photography-by-Pim-Hendriksen
Unique-or-eye-catching-architecture-is-not-hard-to-come-by-in-Rotterdam-like-Daan-Roosegaardes-Smog-Free-Tower.-Photography-by-Pim-Hendriksen
Paul-McCarthys-sculpture-elicits-a-grin-from-a-passerby.-Photography-by-Marc-Heeman
Paul-McCarthys-sculpture-elicits-a-grin-from-a-passerby.-Photography-by-Marc-Heeman