The last project I did at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) was the so-called “multi” project. This multidisciplinary assignment was partially a group project and partially individual work. My main task within the group was to develop the project within its urban context, but I also worked on real estate aspects of the assignment and the graphic design of our material. Individually, I delved deeper into the urban design of the project, with a special focus on water.
The assignment was about the redevelopment of an inner-city location in the north of Rotterdam. There is an elevated railway there, several meters above street level, which no longer runs. The railway line was called the Hofpleinviaduct, but most people just call it the ‘Hofbogen’.
There were several requirements for the location. The station and railway line are monuments, which must be conserved. There had to be space for at least 4000 square meters of gross residential floor area, of which a quarter was to be specifically developed for seniors. On the ground floor: retail and working space. The design brief also called for a living and care center; a cluster of small-scale living units for at least 24 people, consisting of 4 group homes; and a space with a societal function. All this, of course, with enough parking space.
An extra urban design demand to the project was the creation of a vision for the redevelopment of the (entire) Hofbogen.
De Noorderlus (Northern Loop)
Adjacent to the project location are two squares: the Eudokiaplein and the Insulindeplein. The former is quite vibrant, the latter more quiet and green. The basis for our group’s design was making and connecting two loops. This transforms the project location into a junction of routes: a route along shops and businesses, and a route along green space. By using the building as the connecting element between these places, multiple interesting routes are created for residents, neighbors, and fellow city dwellers. The area thereby becomes a platform for the community of the Oude Noorden neighborhood of Rotterdam.
We shaped the location using one building. This creates a visual cohesion and an own identity. The shape of the building provides space to two ‘squares’, which are a kind of extension of the surrounding squares. They meet each other and the Hofbogen in the middle. This is the concept of the Noorderlus (Northern Loop): connecting routes.
In our group design we took several different aspects of the building process into account. For instance, we considered building physics on an urban scale, not just at a building level; we used the furnishing and development of urban spaces such as squares when developing floor plans; and in our constructive design we accounted for as much flexibility and cost efficiency as possible.
The furnishing and detailing of the two inner squares in the redeveloped location mainly follows the furnishing of the surrounding squares. The lively shopping loop that runs across the Eudokiaplein is finished with a mostly car-free pedestrian route, which goes past retail space and businesses. This way, visitors can walk in a circle, without having to backtrack to go back where they came from. The quieter, greener Eudokiaplein is extended up to the Hofbogen, in order to create a connection to them.
The Hofbogen are redeveloped in two ways. The upper deck, where trains used to run, will become an elongated park. A green route that runs through the heart of the city, with multiple entry points. Our project location is one of them. A big advantage of all this green space is that it can take in an enormous quantity of water. Over a sixth of the total water retention demand of Rotterdam!
The arches are being rented out to businesses already. That will be continued, but the arches themselves will get a facelift and functions will be clustered so that they can provide a benefit to one another. Both approaches are based on the idea that monuments can be conserved by being used. This applies to the station as well, which will be redeveloped into a social center for the neighborhood. Lastly, there will be a branch of the Rotterdam library in the new building, a function that the entire area can benefit from.
An important part of this project was building a model. We chose to build our model in a style that would correspond with our other presentation material. Our poster has a dark background, so our model has a base of dark wood. The model is quite stylistic; we almost exclusively used wood, in different colors. We were very pleased with the end result, which was confirmed by teachers, especially when we heard the project would be displayed during the TU/e open days!
I’ve learned a lot during this project, and not only about urban design or other architectural subjects. The intensive collaboration in a group proved to be very valuable and I liked it a lot. I feel like I learned a lot about working in a group and I have developed several ideas on how one can ensure smooth cooperation within a group. This made the project extra valuable to me, so I look back on it with a good feeling.