“Slippery Squares and Concrete Buildings”

CASE STUDY: Schouwburgplein, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

An interview with René Dutrieux, project manager at the planning department of the Municipality of Rotterdam. In this case study Dutrieux will tell you something about Schouwburgplein, the theatre square in the centre of Rotterdam. He will explain it’s course of time and their challenges, like the low amount of activity on the square. People tend to pass the square or enter the buildings without staying on the square before the beginning of a show. By explaining it’s solution and secrets the reader gets great insight about the improvementof Schouwburgplein through a course of time.

“It’s important to show the cultural richness and modern heritage to the citizens”

Click here to read and download this articlep181 49-2 Schouwburgplein Rotterdam- CREDIT Vereniging Verenigd Schouwburgplein

Both images: Schouwburgplein Rotterdam  © Vereniging Verenigd Schouwburgplein

“Hofbogen; a Vision for the In-Between Plinth”

An article written by Henk Ovink, Senoir Advisator of the Hurricane Sandy National Spatial Planning for the Nederlands Ministry and co-editor of Design and Politics. The plinths in the city are the swinging doors between wet and dry, warm and cold, inside and outside. The plinth tells the story of the building as you enter it, or even before you go in, as its billboard, an advertisement of the inside. And at the same time the plinth reflects the city (sometimes literally) the power of the urban space, the place. The plinth is a border and at the same time, the membrane of the city; the swap space to look at, touch, and pass through.

“There are two scales for the Hofbogen line to fulfil this promise of urban reformer. On the scale of the city, it can re-connect the city centre with the surrounding landscape, by using the former rail track as a biking or hiking path. By rebuilding the mistakenly demolished bridge leading to it, the Hofbogen can become the connector to all layers and levels of the city.”

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p235b 43-3_Hofbogen Rotterdam - CREDIT Maarten Laupman_HQ.jpg

Both images: Hofbogen Rotterdam ©Maarten Laupman

“The Importance of Local Heroes”

Hans Appelboom, owner of Duikelman tells about his experiences as entrepeneur. Duikelman is a specialty kitchen equipment store in the bohemian neighborhood of The Pijp, Amsterdam.

How does ownership and local control over real estate influence plinth redevelopment and revitalization?

“I’d like to make a remark on the often heard idea of a necessity for flexibility in (the use of) property and the levels of rent. Project developers and landlords on speculative base tend not to think on a long term. Often they set for the highest return on their investments, resulting in tenants of the well known kind. Real estate owners should be involved in an early stage in new plans and strategies in order to convince them that a long term vision is better for everyone.”

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Both images © Jan van Teeffelen 

“By the Power of 10”

The Power of 10 is a simple idea. The foundation of the concept is that a good place has many activities and good reasons to be there, maybe 10 or more. Norman Mintz, a pioneer of the ‘Main Street’ movement, explains the Power of 10 by using the Bryant Park in New York as a example. Mintz is also Senior Associate for Project for Public Spaces and has many experiences with using the Power of 10 for placemaking processes.


“To bring about change, implementation is where it starts. It’s one thing to look to the city or planning department for guidance and leadership. But the real and best test to any revitalisation project is community involvement. The merchants or the city do not own the downtown, the people own it.”

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p081 12_Carousel-Bryant Park New York USA PPS.org

The carousel in Bryant Park: a good example of the Power of Ten. It also serves as an excellent example to illustrate the principle of ‘Triangulation’. Notice that the Carousel has other activities attached to it, such as a playful and engaging ticket booth and a ‘reading room’ in scale for children. Just beside it (out of the picture) is a ‘game area’ for children and a special area for children parties.

“Iconic Thinkers”

An article in our book written by Meredith Glaser and Mattijs van ‘t Hoff, both urbanist.

The idea of “The City at Eye Level” is not new: many iconic urban planning thinkers have been instrumental in influencing the development of a humanscale urban planning and design in our (inner) cities. In this article you can read more about the great iconic thinkers who are relevant to today’s planning.

“Another key feature of the street is retailing – stores, windows with displays, signs to attract your attention, doorways, people going in and out of them. Big new office buildings have been eliminating stores. What they have been replacing them with is a frontage of plate glass through which you can behold bank officers sitting at desks. One of these stretches is dull enough. Block after block of them creates overpowering dullness.” – William H. Whyte (1980)

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William H. Whyte, The Social Life of Small Urban Space