The Secret Skyline of Rotterdam

Not everyone knows it, but under the movie posters on the facade of the Pathé cinema on Schouwburgplein is a drawing of the skyline of Rotterdam. My drawing of the skyline of Rotterdam, in fact. How did it get there? That’s a long story…


A few years ago, in the context of a competition organized by Rotterdam Festivals, I made a graphical representation of the Rotterdam skyline as shown below. The competition was set up to create a new logo for the organization; until that time they already used a stylized skyline, but with the arrival of new landmarks like De Rotterdam, the Markthal and the Central Station, that urgently needed to be updated.

Graphical representation of the colorful skyline of Rotterdam, with four bridges and landmarks like the Central Station, Market Hall, Euromast and De Rotterdam
Competition entry for Rotterdam Festivals


My design was not selected. Usually that’s the end  of the story with a competition like this. But not in this case. I put the image in my webshop and I wrote a blogpost about it. I made a few variations, including a spherical panorama and a knitting pattern. Over the years, the image and its incarnations found their way to various living rooms, but also to a birth announcement card. And in recent editions of the Rotterdam marathon, hundreds of runners had a Roffa-green version on their shirt.

Graphical representation of the Rotterdam skyline, with the most important buildings, bridges and other landmarks, printed on a green t-shirt
The marathon shirt with the skyline

Theatre Square

Half a year ago I received a mail by Reynoud Homan, who worked with architect Koen van Velzen on the design for the renovation of the Pathé cinema on the Schouwburgplein (the Theatre Square in the city center).

The corrugated façade sheets, not appreciated much by many people, were replaced by another transparent material: polycarbonate. The façade of the large auditorium above the entrance was done in stucco, with space reserved for film posters. It was expected, however, that this poster space would not always be completely filled. So the idea came up to place an image of the Rotterdam skyline as a background on the cinema facade.

Visible location

When Googling for inspiration with keywords “skyline” and “Rottterdam”, my skyline design soon came to the surface. And that image perfectly fitted the job. So I was asked if I wanted to make my image available for the Pathé facade. I definitely wanted that; there are days when I don’t have the opportunity to see my work printed on 180 square meters in a visible location in the city center.

We quickly agreed on the price and after a few proofs, the waiting for the execution started. Funny detail was that I live a stone’s throw from the square and so I could follow the progress from my kitchen window.

Work in progress on the facade of the Pathé cinema on Schouwburgplein in Rotterdam, where the city's skyline slowly emerges behind the scaffolding
Pathe cinema Rotterdam Schouwburgplein – work in progress
The façade of the Pathé cinema on the Schouwburgplein, partly still in scaffolding, with the image of the Rotterdam skyline
Taking down the scaffolding
View from one of the Lijnbaan apartment buildings towards the newly renovated Pathé cinema on Schouwburgplein with the skyline of Rotterdam on the façade
All four segments visible

Movie posters

After the scaffolding had been taken away, the first film posters were soon installed. At the time of printing of this blog my whole image had disappeared beneath the posters. But as we say in the Netherlands: fortunately we still have the photos.

Photo of the Schouwburgplein in Rotterdam, shortly after the completion of the renovation of the Pathé cinema, with film posters of Robin Hood and Bonbini Holland on top of the skyline image
Three segments hidden behind movie posters


Initially it was expected that the poster space would not always be filled. But now that it’s there, it looks like the film distributors are quite fond of the idea and are also willing to pay for it.

So there’s a fair chance that my skyline image will never be seen again. That is, of course, a shame, but I also strangely like the idea. I’m the creator of perhaps the biggest piece of hidden street art in Rotterdam. The Secret Skyline of the Schouwburgplein.

Four movie posters, one of them fake, on the facade of the Pathe cinema on Schouwburgplein in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Spot the fake movieposter…


And because I can imagine that people would like to have such a picture with a story on the wall, of course I also put this grayscale cinematograhic version in my webshop:

Graphical image of the Rotterdam skyline, including Euromast, Erasmus Bridge and Markthal, as it is placed, often hidden behind film posters, on the façade of the Pathé cinema on Schouwburgplein
The Schouwburgplein edition

And allright, why not add a night version as well?

Graphic representation of the Rotterdam skyline, featuring Markthal, Euromast, Erasmus bridge and numerous other buildings bridges and other landmarks
The skyline by night

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