Rotterdam, Oostplein: Return of the Windmill

A few weeks ago I saw on Vimeo the movie Rotterdam 2040, created by Gyz la Riviere. Highly recommended: the film is full of archival footage of Rotterdam in various eras. The film also makes you think about the typical Rotterdam tendency to constantly demolish historic buildings for the sake of progress, or for other reasons.

Of course, the German Air Force in 1940 had a disproportionate share of the demolition. But you would expect that people would be more careful with what was left, precisely because of that bombing. But the opposite happened. Many buildings that could have been saved with a little effort were destroyed shortly after the bombing because they did not fit into the plans for a modern city. And even after the war one monument after another fell prey to the breakers.

Gyz’ list

Gyz has compiled a list of buildings that, in his opinion, should be rebuilt. For one of those, Dudok’s Bijenkorf I’ve been making a case myself in recent years. Often however, before the rebuilding can begin, a few tricky questions have to be answered. Such as: who will pay? Or: what will we do with such a monument once resurrected? And moreover: almost always there is now another building on the original site. For the Koninginnekerk, you would have to demolish a retirement home; for the theatre at the Aert van Nesstraat you’d even have to relocate the Lijnbaan shopping street.

Traffic junction

For one building on the list those concerns hardly apply: windmill De Noord on Oostplein. It survived the bombing but was destroyed in 1954 in a “regular” fire. A proposed reconstruction was rejected by the city council because the windmill had been in the way of traffic anyway. That’s how Oostplein became the windy traffic junction that doesn’t really deserve the name square. There is room enough for a mill, maybe not exactly on the old location at the end of the Hoogstraat, but definitely in the middle of the square. And about the use of the building, you do not even have to think: a tavern with terrace where obviously sandwiches will be served made with home-ground flour. And this also answers the financial questions, at least partially.

A greener Oostplein

I’ve made a virtual reconstruction and I have taken the opportunity to make the stony square somewhat greener; throughout the city the trams are now driving through grass, so why not at the Oostplein? This is what it would look like:

Windmill De Noord, reconstructed on the Oostplein in Rotterdam

Rebuilding windmills has been done before. In nearby Schiedam they’ve almost made it a habit. So it could certainly be done in Rotterdam as well. And maybe we’ll like it so much that we start working our way through the rest of Gyz’ list.

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