Rooftop screening

Last Saturday, the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam organized a rooftop screening on the top of a building at Delftseplein, inspired on roof sessions in New York. A hilarious B-movie by Larry Cohen was screened: Q, the winged serpent (1982), in which an ancient flying monster lays eggs in the top of the Chrysler building.

For the time of the year, however, it was still extremely cold. Rocket shaped wood burners were installed on the roof and red blankets and glühwein were provided during the film.

Reuse of historic buildings – Dutch Top 10

Rotterdam appears three times in the Dutch Top 10 of reuse of historic buildings, made by the Dutch Heritage Platform. The city is especially known for its industrial and modern heritage, which dominates the list. There are in total 7 industrial complexes on the list, 2 churches and 1 hotel. The RDM campus, a technical school in an old shipyard, makes the top of the list.

RDM wharf – launch of the ‘Rotterdam’ ocean liner

The Top 10:
1. RDM campus, Rotterdam
2. Strijp-S, Eindhoven
3. Lichttoren, Eindhoven
4. Boekhandel Selexyz in Dominicanen Kerk, Maastricht
5. Hotel New York, Rotterdam
6. Van Nellefabriek, Rotterdam
7. Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam
8. Villa Augustus, Dordrecht
9. St. Gertrudis van Nijvelkerk, Heerle
10. Verkadefabriek, Den Bosch

Rotterdam has other examples of interesting reuse of modern heritage that didn’t make it to the list, such as the Calypso (recently demolished) and the Maas Silo complex (now Creative Factory).

View from Creative Factory

Utrecht central station – journey through time

The station of Utrecht in the 19th century was the first Dutch train station where two railways met – the Rhijnspoorlijn to Amsterdam and the railway to Rotterdam – so people could transfer from one line to the other. Stations, at that time, were mainly logistic hubs just outside the city limits, connecting one city to another.

About 70 years later, the city had grown beyond the railway. The location of the central station, the most accessible point in the whole country, was not well used as a place. In 1962, the municipality asked construction company Bredero to draw up a plan to densify the areas adjacent to the infrastructure, and turn Utrecht CS into a centrality, including a shopping mall (Hoog Catharijne), a theatre, concert hall and national event venue (Jaarbeurs).

At this time, car use was increasing rapidly, changing the way people used amenities and moved through the city, and hereby changing the way city’s were planned. The historic canal Catharijnesingel, parallel to the rail tracks, was filled in the 1970’s and turned into an artery road for automobiles.

A dense patchwork of buildings arose near the station, mainly offices. Despite the modernity, unequal to the rest of the country, relatively soon the complex became outdated. Hoog Catharijne is often criticized for being a monofunctional complex, with poor public space and street access, and poor spatial quality. Another 70 years later, the project CU2030 foresees the transformation of the entire station area until the year 2030. The new transport terminal, designed by Benthem Crouwel, will be ready by 2015. Meanwhile, the Catharijnesingel is being dug out again, to become a canal with, eventually, a large tree canopy.

In 2030, the station area will not purely be a logistic hub, not a densely built up place, but rather a multifunctional part of the city, where mobility is optimally connected to urban functions by pleasant public space.

Radio Kootwijk

“Hello Bandoeng, hello Bandoeng, Kootwijk here”, said the queen in 1929, using the radio connection with the Dutch colonies in Indonesia. After completing the radio transmitter complex 12.000 kilometers away in Bandoeng, the high plain of Kootwijk was chosen for the Dutch radio receiver. Architect Jules Luthmann designed the iconic transmission building, also known as ‘the cathedral’, along with other typical structures in reinforced concrete. A hexagon of 200 meter high towers was erected around the central building, interconnected with copper wires to form a gigantic antenna. The complex was inaugurated in 1923.

After the radio antennas in the area had become obsolete, in 1998, the by then privatized telephone company KPN sold the complex to the Ministry of Agriculture. On the one hand, the population of Radio Kootwijk (less then a hundred people) was afraid of new antennas with disturbing effects on health and the environment. On the other hand, demolishing the unique heritage of the radio complex was polemic. The buildings could only be maintained if  a new function for them was found. In 2009, the complex was sold back to the national foresting department Staatsbosbeheer, who developed a joint vision for redevelopment of Radio Kootwijk. The plan strives to find new cultural and leisure uses for the historic radio buildings and surroundings, while maintaining the quiet and natural qualities of the place.

At the moment, especially summer activities are scheduled, on a temporary basis, in and around the ‘cathedral’ and in a so-called ‘theater shed’. In winter, the place is very silent. The spaces can also be rented for events. The hotel building caught fire in 2006, but is to be rebuilt in its former glory. In the area, management training facilities have landed, using the green surroundings for inspiration.

Radio Kootwijk in Google Maps

LowLine New York

After successful transformation of overhead infrastructures into leisure spaces, such as the New York HighLine park, new possibilities are being explored underground. The LowLine project uses crowd funding to turn the old Williamsburg Trolley Terminal, an underground complex, into a community park. The complex was built in 1903 and has remained unused since 1948.

The location in the Lower East Side, which lacks public green space and business opportunities, challenged a neighboring architecture firm to come up with this plan. The designers developed a system that captures sunlight and transmits it to the subterranean park, in sufficient quantities for photosynthesis, in other words to grow trees and other plants.