Once again a Rotterdam plane tree finished second in the Tree of the Year election. After the Lijnbaan plane tree, two years ago, this time it was the Breytenbach plane tree on Westersingel canal that was defeated by a competitor from the southern provinces. Those Rotterdam plane trees are like the Dutch men’s football team of the tree competitions: always loosing the final. Nevertheless it’s an impressive sight, this Breytenbach tree, on its own little peninsula in the canal. The tree owes its name to the South African poet Breyten Breytenbach, who declared it a “monument to free thoughts” in… Read More
|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.
There are few cities with a nature island within their borders. Both in the Netherlands and abroad I don’t know many examples. Rotterdam does have one. Okay, not really in the middle of the city, but well within the municipal boundaries and even (largely) within the Ringroad. We are of course talking about Brienenoord (pronounce breen-a north), separated from the rest of the city by a river channel named Zuiddiepje (which translates as Little Southern Deep) Van Brienen The island is 1400 meters long and about 200 meters at its widest point. It has been around since the early 19th… Read More
The fortieth edition of the Rotterdam marathon, on Sunday 24 October 2021, was a very special one. To start with, it was the first Rotterdam marathon in two and a half years. Quite a long interval for an annual event, but we all know what tiny brat of a virus was responsible for that. Autumn But also the season made this marathon unique. The event always takes place in the first half of April; this was the first and probably only time 17,000 runners ran these 42,195 meters in autumn. Seasonal Since many thousands of photos of the marathon are… Read More
Autumn is the season of special effects par excellence. In addition to beautifully colored trees and spectacular cloudy skies, fog sometimes creates a special atmosphere in these months. On October 8, the conditions in Rotterdam were truly sensational. The day started with thick fog but at about nine o’clock the sun slowly started to break through. From my balcony I first saw the Parkhotel, the Boymans museum and the Depot building emerge from the mists. After that, the Euromast and the twin towers of the Erasmus MC slowly appeared. Apocalyptic Beautiful images quickly appeared on the internet, shot from high… Read More
This blog post was actually planned for the spring of 2020. The idea, analogous to the famous Dutch Railways hikes: a number of hiking routes with a metro station or tram stop as the start and end point. But then it became clear that covid-19 would not pass the Netherlands completely unnoticed. Public transport was suddenly declared “for strictly necessary journeys only”. Of course I could have published in the more relaxed summer months of 2020. But even then, a second wave seemed to be around the corner all the time. Last winter’s lockdown also didn’t seem like the right… Read More
This blog post is made for growth. A few years ago I produced a series of artificially aged postcards of Rotterdam, seemingly from a bygone era but with contemporary landmarks such as the Markthal, Central Station and Erasmus Bridge. In the meantime, a new generation of architectural highlights is under construction or just completed and that called for a new series of vintage postcards. There are still fences, scaffolding, site huts or other disfiguring elements around a number of those projects, so I’ll have to wait for the right time to strike. I will place the new additions to the… Read More
For a few years now, I have made it a habit, some time mid-March, to look back on the past winter, and especially on the photographic aspects of it. Unfortunately, since I started doing that, there has hardly been any real winter weather in the Netherlands. In 2014/2015, the winter lasted only two days. In 2016/2017 I had to go to the far east of the country to take beautiful pictures. In 2017/2018 there was some cold at the beginning and the end, but the rest of the winter was grey and rainy. For the winter of 2018/2019 I could… Read More
Mid-March, in the week that the corona panic began to take hold, my growing apprehension was somewhat tempered by a nice little job for the municipality of Groningen. They had seen my digital scrapwood map of the Netherlands and wondered if there was such a map of the city of Groningen. That would be a perfect gift for a departing alderman. Blocks That map did not exist yet, but could of course be made. The question was: do I make each neighborhood out of a separate piece of virtual scrapwood, as I had done with the provinces on the map… Read More
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… Read More
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… Read More