Manhattan on the Maas

Jeroen Apers, Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Compared to other countries, the skylines of Dutch cities aren’t that impressive. But in view of the weak Dutch soil, the high-rise developments in Rotterdam are still pretty spectacular.

The newest high-rise project in the city is called De Rotterdam. It’s not only named after the city, it also conceals a whole city. The 149-metre tall building houses homes, offices, bars and restaurants, shops and a cinema. Rem Koolhaas of the OMA agency designed it as a melding of three towers. Interestingly, the building of this design was only possible due to the economic crisis. For ten years it was too expensive to build, until the price of steel fell sharply a few years ago. It will open next year, thanks to the persistent, ‘shut up and get on with it’ attitude of Rotterdammers.

Like De Rotterdam, all the towers on the Wilhelminapier were designed by world famous architects. For example, this former harbour wall at Kop van Zuid has towers by the British Norman Foster, the Portuguese Alvaro Siza, the Italian Renzo Piano and the Dutch Francine Houben from the Mecanoo agency. The Maastoren, the highest in the Netherlands at 165 metres, has also been erected nearby. 

The adjacent Erasmus Bridge links the Wilhelminapier and new residential district Kop van Zuid with the city centre. This 139-metre high cable bridge was designed in the ‘90s by the then young unknown, Ben van Berkel, and immediately became an icon of the city. Its distinctive pylon design has lent this asymmetrical bridge the nickname of ‘The Swan’.

They are also reaching for the sky on the city centre side of the Maas. For example, the wine port has been transformed from a dilapidated port area to a modern urban district with a pair of hypermodern towers. One of these is the 120-metre high, bright red residential tower the Red Apple. The name refers to New York’s nickname as well as its environment and history. The city’s apple market was situated near the red tower from 1889 on.

So you see: despite the crisis, Rotterdam is still the city for lovers of contemporary (high rise) architecture. If you really want to see Rotterdam from above, then try the Euromast, now over 50 years old.

Euromast, Parklaan 20, Rotterdam.