While it has previously been referred to as ‘the ugliest city of the Netherlands’, Rotterdam is now leaving its legacy behind. The city has now invested €233 million to make seven different awesome green city improvements.

Rotterdam doesn’t fit into the image of picturesque little houses and cute canals of most Dutch cities. During WWII, Rotterdam was bombed more than any other Dutch city. The Netherlands surrendered in time to leave Utrecht (which was next on the German bombing list) with its canals intact. While Utrecht and Amsterdam jauntily flaunt their historic city centres, poor Rotterdam was left in ruins.

But Rotterdam was not to be deterred, and following liberation in May 1945, the city lost no time rebuilding. While for some the rebuilt version of Rotterdam is a concrete nightmare, others find the vibrant, urban vibe refreshing.

A real football city at heart, the stadium will become the heart of the new developments. Gotta say this might even beat the Johan Cruijff ArenA stadium in Amsterdam. Image: Gemeente Rotterdam/Supplied

Rotterdam onwards stronger

The resilience that Rotterdam showed after WWII has always remained part of the city. Now, the city has launched another mass architectural plan. With the slogan Rotterdam, sterker door or ‘Rotterdam, onwards stronger’, the city will invest €233 million in seven different city projects. This investment aims to counter the negative effects that the coronavirus had and continue to improve the quality and attractiveness of the city.

In a press release, the city has announced that they will invest in ‘corona proofing’ the city. Among other things, they will ensure homeless people have coronaproof housing, ensure all playgrounds and sports fields have appropriate distance and make summer camps for students. “We know our city is beautiful because of the companionship and support we give one another in difficult times”, the press release says, “this is the mentality we want to foster through our investments.”

The Rijnhaven will include 2,500 new houses, a city lounge, an eight-hectare park, and new metro stops for easy access. I’m definitely visiting Rotterdam as soon as this is done! Image: Gemeente Rotterdam/Supplied

The city has announced seven areas of focus for the investment, namely: Alexanderplein, Rijnhavenpark, de Hofbogen, Maashavenpark, Hofplein & Blaak, Schouwburgplein and Getijdepark Feyenoord. The focus is specifically on adding green spaces into the city. The projects should be complete in the coming 10 years.

The new Park Maashaven will be seven hectares and prove a green space, as well as areas to organize festivals or events (I can’t wait!). Image: Gemeente Rotterdam/Supplied
The Schouwburgplein is built on top of a parking garage and will be renovated for larger events. Honestly, I’m considering moving to Rotterdam now. Image: Gemeente Rotterdam/Supplied

Going green

All those previously accusing Rotterdam of being a ‘concrete nightmare’ will be forced to reconsider. As can be seen, the plans look fantastic. The changes are adding the breath of fresh air that Rotterdam sometimes seemed to lack. Even for myself as a hard-core Utrechter, it’s hard not to be swayed by the pictures depicting luscious green fields, trees, and fountains.

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The iconic Hofplein will be revamped with more trees, grass and space for cyclists and pedestrians. I love the change! Image: Gemeente Rotterdam/Supplied
The future Blaak park will be in the middle of the city. Combined with a decrease in traffic, this will create cleaner air, more space and less noise pollution. Image: Gemeente Rotterdam/Supplied
The new Prins Alexander park will include new sitting areas and more space for cyclists. Looks like the perfect place to chill or take a walk! Image: Gemeente Rotterdam/Supplied

The new plans also hail a more climate-friendly energy transition. “The city needs to be green. It’s like a breath of fresh air” says D66 representative Arjan van Gils.

The roof of a railway viaduct, de Hofbogen, will be transformed into a 2-kilometre long walkway (the longest green roof of the Netherlands!). It also includes a circular waterway that contributes to the city’s solutions to climate change. Image: Gemeente Rotterdam/Supplied

So the next time you consider joking about Rotterdam, remember the story of resilience hiding behind the concrete. And if you really must criticise, better hurry up, because in ten years these projects will certainly rival the beauty of other Dutch cities.

What do you think of Rotterdam’s new plans? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Feature Image: Gemeente Rotterdam

4 COMMENTS

  1. So glad to read that Dutch developers and councils take decisive steps to make a better more sustainable future for their citizens. No short term quick solutions that last maybe a few years if that and might score you some points in the next election. No I mean real future planning with results that can be enjoyed for decades to come. It is a serious investment in sustainable spaces, designs and collaborations to make better decisions. Proud to be Dutch when I read this and definitely will visit again and again.

  2. I’m glad that finally Rotterdam (& hopefully Gouda, Den Haag, and many more) cities will follow in Rotterdams footsteps. Having grown up in N’Kerk a/d IJssel, tussen Rotterdam en Gouda, In the 70’s when returning for a visit I found it cold and concrete without the green I was used to.
    This was in 1993 after my immigration into the United States of America West coast Seattle and northern areas in 1987.

    Seeing these plans put in place makes me feel proud to be Dutch !

  3. I lived in Rotterdam from 1974 and 1977. I loved it! Are the bowling lanes still near Central Station? Anyone remember the large disco by the traffic circle? The closest I’ve come going back is street view. Up the street from Central Station I remember the Irish style pub which is probably gone by now. Wish I could go back and see these new changes.

  4. Hi Annabelle,
    I would love to apply the technology of the company I work for in this new development. As a former Rotterdamse burger, I would love to contribute to transform the city towards a greener, more sustainable and gezelliger area!

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