Text: Han van der Horst
Photo: various photographers from Rotterdam
Visitors to Rotterdam always return home with muddy shoes.
A city that has to live by its creativity and innovation must constantly remodel itself. Times must change. And so, suddenly, half the city will be dug up to build a light rail connection to The Hague. Or there will be a deep hole with a sign telling you to approach at your own risk, and only with the authorisation of the project manager. At sites like these you will always find Rotterdam pensioners standing watching, only too happy to tell you what’s going on: a new office block or hotel reaching over a hundred metres into the sky, a new shopping mall, luxury apartments.
Clearly, all these developments do not represent a break with the past. They are part of the Rotterdam tradition of constantly reinventing itself. Over a hundred years ago, Rotterdam built the tallest office building in Europe.
The mud on our shoes is evidence that, by changing, Rotterdam remains itself. The city would lose its soul if ever anyone were to say ‘It’s finished now, we don’t need to dig up any more streets. The city will stay as it is from now on’
That would make the people of Rotterdam very unhappy.
After all, change is the soul of their city.