The Glass Map of Rotterdam: a plan in fifteen colors

Wow! That must have been a hell of a job … Cutting all those pieces of colored glass, exactly the right size and shape. And then carefully arranging them on a steel plate to create a colorful map of Rotterdam.

Downtown rotterdam between central station and the river and between Claes de Vrieselaan and Mariniersweg; fragment of a map of Rotterdam with all city blocks as glass in 15 different colors
Downtown Rotterdam in 15 colors glass

Digital glass

No, fortunately these days we have software to simulate things like that digitally. This glass map of Rotterdam was made using an AutoCAD file of the city’s building blocks. In 3ds Max, I added some irregularity to make it look not too computerized. Then I, totally randomly, assigned to each block one of fifteen different colors of glass. Finally, some post-production had to be done in Photoshop.

The properties of glass

It’s less work than physically cutting out everything, but that does not mean it’s a breeze. Glass is one of the hardest materials to visualize. I endlessly played with the controls until all properties of the glass (transparency, reflection, refraction, shadow, to name a few) were to my liking.

Fragment of the 15 colors glass map of Rotterdam, showing the area around Westersingel and 's-Gravendijkwal
Heemraadssingel and Nieuwe Binnenweg

Inside the ringroad

The map does not show the whole city; on such a large scale the fine details would be lost. I have therefore limited myself to roughly the area inside the ringroad. And no, the colors really have no meaning, they are totally random. Well, you can, of course, come up with a story about the colorful nature, the diversity of the city.


The funny thing is that even though important information such as roads and water features is missing, the main structures of the city are very recognizable. First of all the graceful curves of the river Nieuwe Maas. But also large docks like Rijnhaven, Maashaven and Waalhaven stand out.

Someone who knows the city well can also immediately find large green areas like Kralingen Forest and The Park. The same applies to the railway to Paris and neighborhoods like the North Island and Katendrecht.

There are also a number of buildings that catch the eye because of their size and shape: Central Station (orange, top left) the Peperklip appartment building (blue, right of center) and Feyenoord stadium de kuip (red, bottom right)

Map of Rotterdam inside the ringroad, with the city blocks done as glass in 15 different colors
The Glass Map of Rotterdam

Map store

Because of the increasing number of maps in my portfolio I have a created a special album for them in my shop. With for the time being a modest selection but there is more to come…

Section of a map of Rotterdam, made of pieces of colored glass, framed on the wall in a modern living room
Glass map on the wall

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