The New Coolsingel: More Space for Pedestrians and for Dudok

The facade sculpture from the old Bijenkorf department store by Dudok on the renovated Coolsingel

In early September the plans for Coolsingel, Rotterdam’s main urban axis, were made public. The proposal by Adriaan Geuze makes some very smart moves concerning the various flows of traffic on the busy boulevard. The tram tracks remain where they are, because it would be too expensive to move them. But car traffic, with less lanes, is concentrated east of the tram. Cyclists get a generous lane on the west side. The rest of the space is for pedestrians.

Balance

This plan holds a good balance between the desire of some to completely pedestrianize Coolsingel and the wishes of others to keep the city accessible for cars. I am, as a local resident, very enthusiastic: I can’t wait to see it happen. Why should it actually take until 2017 before it is implemented? Untill that time, we’ll have to do with this video.

Return of the scupture

The developments around Coolsingel also shed new light on the issue of the facade sculpture.

A brief summary of the foregoing: only one little element has been preserved of W.M. Dudok’s regretted masterpiece, the Bijenkorf department store, severely damaged in 1940 and demolished in 1960. It’s a a facade stone with a sculpture by Hendrik van den Eynde. That piece of art has been sitting on a remote parking lot in Woerden for decades. De Bijenkorf would like to collaborate on the return of the stone to Rotterdam, provided that a location is found in the vicinity of their current building.

The right location

Last May, I made a proposal for the, in my opinion, most logical place: the original spot. Not anywhere near, no, exactly on the location where the stone once stuck out of the façade. Even, by means of a steel structure beneath it, at the correct height. I wrote this blog article about it.

At that time one could argue, and some did, that space is somewhat limited there, near the passage from Binnenwegplein. But if the plans by Geuze are implemented, car traffic will be moved to the other side of the Coolsingel. This creates an almost twenty metres wide esplanade for pedestrians and cyclists. There will certainly be room for this historical relic, with a bench and an information panel.

And so, ahead of the actual reconstruction of Rotterdam’s main street, I have adapted the visualization of my proposal to the future situation. Because a new Coolsingel without a place for the rich history of the boulevard, that’s a missed opportunity.

UPDATE: I do not know if PvdA councilor Co Engberts has read my blog, but on September 14 local media reported that he is firmly committed to the return of the sculpture. On the same day, Jan Sluijter, my partner in crime in the cause of the sculpture, was interviewed on national Radio 5. In other words: there’s someting going on!

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