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Afrikaanderplein/ Manhattan on the Maas/ Rotterdam/ NL/ Oct 2019


Manhattan on the Maas

The bombing and fire in the second world war now almost eighty years ago completely destroyed the heart of the city of Rotterdam. The recovery of the city centre is a visible struggle to this day. Successive city visions and building programs have followed each other in recent decades and have left their mark. At the end of the 1980s the balance of reconstruction was drawn up. It was decided to connect the Coolsingel with the south of the river through the new Erasmus Bridge (1996). North was thus connected with South. In this way the old harbour basins and neighbourhoods on the south side of the river could be redeveloped such as the Kop van Zuid (1996-present), De Landtong (1997), Hogeschool Inholland Rotterdam (2000), Laan op Zuid (1994) and the Afrikaanderplein (2000-2005). In that context, the development of the “green” Afrikaanderplein should also be seen as a start-up for the development of the deteriorated neighbourhood and its immediate surroundings. The development of the centre on South. The iconic quality of the Erasmus Bridge and the Kop van Zuid brought the Maas and its boulevards to the heart of the city. The fact that the development of the city has moved more to the south is evident. The jump over the river has had a positive impact on the change of the city centre. South has developed so quickly that Afrikaanderplein has become out-dated and worn-out within 15 years. The space is poorly programmed according to current standards. The park image is dated. Afrikaanderplein is still attractive during market days, but during the off-peak days it is not an attractive central area in the district.



The Afrikaanderplein is located in the middle of the neighbourhood. It is one of the last large green spaces in the South. Nowhere are the contrasts as great as in Rotterdam. Dividing lines sometimes run through neighbourhoods or streets. Many contrasts converge around Afrikaanderplein, in Rotterdam South. In the surroundings of Afrikaanderplein are some of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Netherlands. Unemployment is high, many children go to school without breakfast. Cycle five minutes to the west and you are on Katendrecht, the infamous seamen’s neighbourhood that transformed into a hipster hotspot. Cross the Rijnhaven bridge and you are on Wilhelminapier. The well-to-do and expats inhabit the apartments with the best view of the city. In 2006, the design of the Afrikaanderpark received an architecture prize. Twelve years later, the neighbourhood is in transformation and the municipality wonders whether the park is still adequate. If you walked into the Afrikaanderpark in the morning around 2000, you could fish the empty syringes from the bushes. There was a lot of store vacancy in the surrounding streets. As a result, the “eyes on the street” were missing and people avoided the park. Thanks to many investments in safety, the number of incidents has fallen sharply. The transformation is slow but steady. The situation around the turn of the century will not return to Afrikaanderplein. The future must be focused on an improved economic perspective. New buildings and renewed public spaces must provide a quality boost on and around Afrikaanderplein. It must become a green space with an urban quality that is attractive for a long stay. All plans together make the environment of the Afrikaanderwijk urbanized, this offers various opportunities for a renewal strategy. Urbanization is also a reason for creating more diversity. Diversity is the essence of the city. Gentrification is perhaps the solution to turn the economic tide in Afrikaanderwijk. With the arrival of the bridge, Afrikaanderplein has now become attractively close to the centre of the city and is therefore interesting for renewal.


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Birthplace of soccer club Feyenoord

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