Rotterdam Groot IJsselmonde (NL) - Runner-up


Team Representative: Gijs de Haan (NL) – urbanist; Associates: Vincent Peters (NL), Corné Strootman (NL) – landscape architects

Nieuwe Binnenweg 286A1, 3021GS Rotterdam (NL)
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G. de Haan, V. Peters, C.Strootman

VIDEO (by the team)


1. How did you form the team for the competition?

At the time we all worked for the same urbanism office. Europan was something we all thought about competing in at some point and the site felt like it suited our expertise.

2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic: the place of productive activities within the city?

Groot-IJsselmonde was developed in the 1960s to house people that worked in the port of Rotterdam, and was designed as a green and quiet retreat from the city. Essentially, people slept, shopped and relaxed in this neighbourhood, while the work was done elsewhere. So how to design for productivity in a place not designed to be productive? We believe that in order to do so, Groot-IJsselmonde needs to provide workplaces, places for social interaction and development opportunities aimed at current and new inhabitants. By combining densification and increasing liveliness with an enhancement of the original quiet and green philosophy, we strengthen Groot-IJsselmonde’s qualities while creating a place for productive activities within the city.


3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?

Through the years, Groot-IJsselmonde has drifted away from its original garden-city setup, as ad hoc developments have invaded the green and its original shopping centre has become less attractive, harder to access and, therefore, largely vacant. The two main ingredients of our proposal, developing a new connected neighbourhood park and urban promenades that connect the neighbourhoods to the centre, aim to repair these local errors. The site and the local situation raise a question to which we responded. At the same time, we used this ‘local’ project to develop our vision on productivity in a suburban environment. Groot-IJsselmonde made us think about what productivity really was and how it can be a part of a location that is not necessarily suitable to become a self-sustaining makers-district or a high-density commercial area. Leading were the functions already present in the area, schools, some offices, a car repair. We wondered how these functions could help develop a socially productive neighbourhood and what kind of strategy could stimulate these functions.


4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?

In our offices, we work regularly on topics as densification, innovative mobility and public space/landscape design. Not limited by clients, budgets, participation processes and so on, Europan allowed us to dive deeper into the research in order to develop a stronger position. The ‘green archipelago’ concept of Ungers and Koolhaas inspired us in establishing a new relationship between the green and the urban, not by blending them but by enhancing them through separation. The Emerald Necklace in Boston, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, has also been a relevant reference project as it connects people to nature. It perfectly demonstrates how a connected linear park structure can serve as the backyard for city residents. High streets, as can be found in London, inspired the use of promenades as the central spaces for social interaction.


5. Urban-architectural projects like the ones in Europan can only be implemented together with the actors through a negotiated process and in time. How did you consider this issue in your project?

Using and enhancing the existing qualities of the site was one of our starting concepts. We decided to maintain the valuable buildings and build the new urban structure around them. We found it unsustainable to prescribe a specific programme for the new developments. Without explicitly defining the programme of the ‘new economy’, we define the spatial frameworks that allows this (or any vital local) economy to develop. These frameworks aim to build a sustainable mix of housing, socially productive and economically productive functions. They provide the flexibility to catalyse market initiatives, while simultaneously protecting desired qualities or values. A desirable type of development is stimulated without dismissing equally plausible but unpredicted alternatives. Like a painting by numbers game we provide the spaces that can be filled in and define the rules and percentages that will guarantee a desirable composition.

6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?

It is the first time we competed. More than anything we see this as a confirmation of our vision as designers and as a stimulus to take on projects we think are relevant and can make a difference.



Office: No office yet
Functions: Urbanist, Landscape architects
Average age of the associates: 28 years old

Has your team, together or separately, already conceived or implemented some projects and/or won any competition? If yes, which ones?
All of us have implemented projects and won competitions whilst working for various design-offices (PosadMaxwan, Posad, Maxwan, KCAP). We believe that many of the contemporary challenges in spatial planning and design are taking place at the frontier between urbanism and landscape architecture. Developments such as climate change and increasing urbanisation force these disciplines to collaborate. We thus created a collaboration under the name Kollektief. Corné works with film as a tool to analyze and discuss the atmospheres of landscapes, his short films have been shown at various architecture conferences and in 2016 his entry to the “UNISCAPE People’s Landscapes Video contest” won first prize.