Spatial Design

Blue Mind Rotterdam / The Noorderkade

Eva van der Cammen
Practice Autonomous Practices
Project Public and Private
Major Spatial Design
Year Fourth Year

Nominee: Drempelprijs Autonomous Practices 2020

This project focuses on reconnecting Noorderkade and Nieuwe Maas with Rotterdam by redesigning the waterfront. Nieuwe Maas flows through the centre of Rotterdam. The river was once the edge of the city, but the city has entangled itself around the river throughout the years, positioning the river in the middle of Rotterdam. The northern side of the river is called Noorderkade, consisting out of three parts, Rhijnspoorkade, Boompjeskade and Willemskade. Noorderkade is positioned close towards many familiar places such as Blaak, Willemsbrug, Coolsingel and Erasmusbrug.

Noorderkade was once used for the harbour. However, that function disappeared in time. After the 1945 bombing, when nearly all of Rotterdam was destroyed, also Noorderkade was affected by the bombing. Noorderkade was almost completely destroyed and lost most of its historical character.

Rotterdam has made efforts to redesign Noorderkade. The first effort was in 1990 concerned Boompjeskade and was followed in 2010 by a redesign of Willemskade and Boompjeskade. However, this redesign did not include Rhijnspoorkade and left parts of Noorderkade disconnected from the city and its citizens, and that also causes disconnection from the river.

Therefore, I decided to focus on Rhijnspoorkade and Willemsbrug. These two places are part of Noorderkade, but they lack a strong connection. By redesigning the aforementioned areas I hope to create a strong connection and make Noorderkade whole again.

When studying the history of Rhijnspoorkade, it can be concluded that it now functions as a left-over space. Before the second world war, Rhijnspoorkade had a function. The train station De Maas was located on Rhijnspoorkade and it was frequently used. But after the war, the station was not rebuilt. Modernisation seems to have run its course, and Rhijnspoorkade has been its fallout, leaving it as it is today, left-over space.

The area nearby Willemsbrug is different. Willemsbrug has an important function and is still used by many people. But a bridge has two sides, to identities. The first one is the reason why it was built, to cross the river. However, you can also walk or cycle under the bridge. This second identity is often forgotten. Spaces under bridges are often dark, unused, and seen as unsafe.

This also applies to Willemsbrug where this feeling is amplified by the tunnel that is close to the bridge. This tunnel is the only connection to Boompjeskade, and it is dark and unpleasant. Because of these two areas, the passage under the bridge and the tunnel, the entire part is not welcoming for people. And because of that, when people do walk in this area, they tend to walk fast and stay no longer than necessary. Therefore, this area by the bridge and the tunnel can also be considered to be left-over space.

This project focuses on reconnecting Noorderkade and the river with the citizens and visitors of Rotterdam.

This project focuses on reconnecting Noorderkade and the river with the citizens and visitors of Rotterdam. Reestablishing this connection is important because it will reinvigorate the waterfront and create more public space. The increased use of the waterfront will have a positive effect on people known as ‘Blue mind’, a concept created by marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols. This effect is described as; “A mildly meditative state characterised by calm, peace, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.”