The Zomerhofkwartier, Rotterdam

ZoHo is a small neighborhood just north of Rotterdam Central Station. It’s an edge neighborhood. There’s not a whole lot to do here (yet). And in terms of the plinths–they’re just awful.  The area suffers from vacancy, poor neighborhood image, low performing real estate, inactive plinths. The plinths in particular suffer from:

  • Lack of landmarks or anchors
  • Few places to meet and gather
  • No clear way-finding or signage
  • Discontinuous and/or unsafe plinths
  • No public functions
  • Closed-off, hard corners
  • Lack of eyes on the streets, especially at night
  • Dominating, single-use office space

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Even though ZoHo has terrible plinths, the neighborhood and its surrounding has an incredible amount of assets, an important part of any analysis.

Key assets: Though many of the key assets, as in institutions, organizations, and popular initiatives lay on the borders of the Zomerhofkwartier, the neighborhood also has a lot going for it already. Some of these include:

  • Young, creative, diverse students walking in and around the Zomerhofkwartier from neighborhood educational facilities
  • Two major bicycle routes moving non-motorized traffic through
  • Existing gathering places, at the edges of the neighborhood
  • High quality social and neighborhood capital, including creative industries, makers, schools, and cultural initiatives
  • Popular initiatives nearby that highlight user-based, DIY, crowd-funded urbanism

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Components of the plinth strategy: By systematically assessing each street in the ZoHo and combining the networks of the partners, we were able to identify priorities in each of the softwarehardware, and orgware components for the plinth strategy.

Software priorities included maximum use corners of buildings and the ground level for public functions; a solid mix food, fashion, design typologies; and maintain the local ‘maker’ and light industry uses.

Hardware objectives included using maximum transparency; maintain buildings as non-specific, multi-purpose, flexible; maximum use of hybrid zone.

Orgware objectives included continual updates and communication of lead Zoho partners; high quality maintenance of public functions and programming; presence of holistic ‘street logic’.

The next section, part 3, will focus on the strategy and outcomes.

For more information on the ZoHo project please see http://www.zomerhofstraat76-90.com.

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