Category: Rotterdam

Rotterdam, also known affectionately as Rotjeknor or Roffa, plays a big role in my work. And not just because the 3Develop-offices are located there. The city simply asks for it. With such a fascinating past, dynamic present and an undoubtably interesting future.

The city does well on international lists. Recommended by Lonely Planet, The Rough Guide and the New York Times. Rotterdam, Holland’s only real metropolis, the largest port in Europe, is hip, cool, dynamic and photogenic. And yet still allows room for plans that make the city even more beautiful.

A "post-completion drawing" of the Basic Plan for the Reconstruction of Rotterdam bij Cornelis van Traa from 1946, with the city as it has been built in the 80 years after the 1940 bombing

The Reconstruction of Rotterdam Revised

This year we commemorate that eighty years ago the reconstruction of Rotterdam started. On May 14, 1940, much of the city was destroyed by the German bombardment and subsequent fire. Just four days later, on May 18, city architect W.G. Witteveen was commissioned to make a plan for the rebuilding. The ultimate Basic Plan for Reconstruction, drawn by Witteveen’s successor Cornelis van Traa, was not aproved by the city council until 1946. As I searched through my Rotterdam archive, I came across a thirty-year-old brochure, published in 1990 to celebrate fifty years of reconstruction. On its front page is a...

The shining pot of the Boymans museum collection building under construction in Museum Park in Rotterdam during the blue hour on a morning the the winter of 2020

January Mornings: the 2020 Edition

In a previous post I explained why early January is such a good time to go out taking photographs at daybreak. There’s no need to set the alarm inhumanely early because the latest (in the sense of the least early) sunrise is around New Year’s Day. And in this time of year sunrise coincides more or less with the morning rush hour, making it easy to adorn the photos with light trails and other special effects. Also this year I went out a few times early in the morning for a photo expedition through Rotterdam in the blue hour. Unfortunately...

Future vision for the Rotterdam metro network, with two new lines, visualized as an old school London Underground map

The Rotterdam Metro in Past, Present and Future

On February 9, 1968, the first section of the Rotterdam metro was opened: six kilometers, six stations, from Central Station to Zuidplein. I was there together with my father, but all I remember is that I saw a lot of people’s legs that day. I was only five and much shorter than I am today. A few years later, that first line was extended to my hometown of Hoogvliet. This resulted in a spectacular reduction of the travel time to Rotterdam. Instead of a one hour bus ride, the metro took us to “the city” in half an hour. Now,...

The Lijnbaan Plane Tree Needs Your Vote!

I live in the center of a big city and yet only fifty meters from the Tree of the Year. Or, well, one of the nominees for the Dutch Tree of the Year election 2019 . Giant This tree, the famous Lijnbaan Plane Tree, the tree that has seen it all, has been nominated as a candidate for the province of South Holland. The 168-year-old giant is so large that I had to paste six photos together to get this full picture of it. Eye witness It is a tree that has a story to tell. A tree that has...

Digital Reflections of Rotterdam

I often see them in photo groups on Facebook: photos of Erasmus Bridge, or other iconic buildings located near the river, reflecting in the mirror-like water surface of the river Nieuwe Maas. Waves But the Maas is never smooth like a mirror. Rotterdam is the location where the water of the river meets the flow of the tides from the Northsea. As a result, even in completely windless weather there are always big and little waves. In reality, the Maas therefore is hardly more reflective than, say, the turf in stadium De Kuip or the new pavement on Coolsingel boulevard....

Top view of the model of new construction projects in downtown Rotterdam, in the hall of the Coolsingel Post Office

Cardboard and Styrofoam in the Old Post Office

The old main post office on Coolsingel avenue: it’s a place I visited quite often when I had just moved to Rotterdam. In those days you sometimes needed a stamp to send a letter or postcard. The waiting time in front of the counter was made pleasant by the beautiful space you were in: a large hall with the parabolic concrete arches, skylights and relief tiles. Redevelopment The post office closed its doors in 2007 and since then the hall hasn’t been accessible except in rare occasions. The building, a national monument, was in decay for over a decade but...

The Mevlana mosque in Rotterdam in springtime with the Schie river in the foreground

Rotterdam as seen from a minaret

I have been to many high places in recent years to take pictures of Rotterdam. But on Easter Sunday, together with a few fellow photographers, I had the opportunity to capture the city from a very unusual point of view: a minaret of the Mevlana mosque. The photo shoot was organized by Ramazan Aydogan from Rotta Historica, who previously brought us to the roofs of the Delftse Poort building and the Erasmushuis. Ottoman The Mevlana mosque was completed on its location near the river Delfshavense Schie in Rotterdam West in 2001. The design is by the Schiedam architect Bert Toorman....

Westersingel canal in Rotterdam in the blue hour before sunset with a very thin layer of snow on the grassy banks

The Lousy Winter of ’18/’19

Now that the magnolias are in bloom, it’s about time for my traditional photographic review of last winter. And what a lousy winter it was … One snowflake on a scale of one to five! I know, weather and climate are not quite the same and you cannot automatically blame global warming for every mild winter day. But still it makes you wonder if snow photography has a future. However, the winter of 2018/2019 also had a few photogenic moments. But one had to act quickly. Christmas The first snow fell on the early morning of December 16. It was...

The floating pontoon bridge across Leuvehaven harbour near the Maritime Museum in Rotterdam during the blue hour before sunrise

January Mornings

In a previous blog, I told you that the earliest sunset, the first milestone on the way to spring, already happens on December 12. The latest sunrise is two and a half weeks later, on December 30th. The graph below makes it clear: on that day in Rotterdam – and it won’t be much different elsewhere in the Netherlands – the sun won’t appear untill 8.50. Expeditions Sunrise at (almost) 9 AM ; that means that in January you do not have to get up extremely early to experience the blue and the golden hours. So every year I set...

Wooden walkbridge through the tidal forest along the river Oude Maas near Ruigeplaatbos in the Rotterdam district of Hoogvliet

Return to Hoogvliet

The Rotterdam district of Hoogvliet, located more than ten kilometers from the city center, is a boring suburb if ever there was one. I’ve spent the first 22 years of my life there. And I was not very enthusiastic about it, to put it mildly. A town with forty thousand inhabitants, but without a theater, a cinema or other forms of culture and nightlife. And with architecture from the disastrous decades of the sixties, seventies and eighties, which did not make me happy either. Roots I don’t visit Hoogvliet very often these days; there aren’t very many people I know...