The identity of Rotterdam is Janus-headed: a [portcity] mutated to [port~city].

From Venice of the North to World’s Largest Port, the city of Rotterdam has always been in the shadow of the port. With advances in port technology and infrastructural requirements, from the digging of the Nieuwe Waterweg (1866-72) to containerisation of the 60s, the process of the port’s migration to the west initiated an idiosyncratic dynamic of diverging entities. As the port increasingly becomes a separate entity, Rotterdam looks to position itself as a city1. The tabula rasa imposed by the infamous German bombardment on the 14th of May, 1940 ravaging the urban city center only properly set the table for the (re)construction of Rotterdam’s identity.

Unlike Dresden or Vienna, which suffered the same fate to reconstruct, they never finished in Rotterdam or so it seems. It is a city of building sites, a work-in progress from center to periphery, incomplete and unfinished. Although “City of Cranes” has already been taken (and forgotten) by Berlin, Rotterdam sustains the claim far more convincingly. But with no tradition in arts or culture, the “hard-working”, “scarcity” or the “other” city of the Netherlands STILL struggles to create an identity independent from the divergent port now safely located to the west.

Within this process of sliding like a glacier to the west, where the port’s defecation becomes urban fabric, a dynamic and sustainable identity for Rotterdam can be found. INNBETWEEN city and port is the idiosyncratic pattern of emerging transition zones, a temporal flux but substantial character trait that sustains a dynamic process of constant reconstruction. It is a fluid identity not object-based but process-oriented: a constant work in-progress. Underlying the INNBETWEEN concept is a belief that Rotterdam, within its constant reconstruction complex, has an opportunity to become a breeding ground for other meaningful reconstructions, not only in architecture but in ways of seeing.

Don't hide it, use it.

 

 

1 Martin Aarts / Ben Maandag: Accelerating Rotterdam