Dudok Groep nieuws — Europan NL 15

december 2019

Europan NL 15

The five Dutch sites selected for Europan’s 2019 design competition are all located in Rotterdam. Each site presents its own unique challenges. Six private parties are keeping close watch on the competition, and the creative teams and solutions that emerge from it. In this series of blogs, AIR interviews representatives from each party in order to capture their thoughts on Europan’s potential legacy. In this blog, Wouter Vos and Marcel Schippers from real estate developer, Dudok, weigh in.

For the first time, Europan is focusing exclusively on Rotterdam. Do you support this decision?

Wouter: ‘The City of Rotterdam is growing and changing rapidly. These changes cannot compare to Amsterdam or Utrecht because the context is different. There are different forces at play. We feel that it is strategic to focus only on Rotterdam, given the combination of activities that are happening here. Economies are expanding. People are moving into the city rather than leaving it for Amsterdam. A whole new generation of young people are attracted to the city and want to live here. As a result, the fabric of the city is changing.’

Marcel: ‘We see industrial zones transforming into residential areas, and the development of a Makers District. Change is happening in both cities, but in Rotterdam, it’s different. Rotterdam and Amsterdam have a different vibe, because they are different, and we should approach them that way.’

The Europan15 sites include Vierhavensblok, Visserijplein, Kop Dakpark, Groot IJsselmonde and Brainpark I. What are some of the opportunities and challenges you see in these locations?

Wouter: ‘M4H, of which Vierhavensblok is part, is still an industrial zone and so close to the city. The biggest challenge we see is that you must address it as one area at once. You cannot change it in little portions; you must apply a comprehensive approach. Municipalities and market parties have to do this in combination, especially if they are to be successful in transforming it to a major area with five and a half thousand homes. The site presents a challenge and an opportunity that really can only be approached with all relevant parties at the table. All angles at once.’

Marcel: ‘M4H is an area that is as large as the center of Rotterdam. Just as big as it. However, it will perform in a different way than a center. It will be a new place to live, work and recreate. At just 8 minutes on a Dutch bicycle from the center of Rotterdam, it is so well connected and this has a great deal of potential.’

Wouter: ‘Nevertheless, in no way will it replace the center. It will be a new area with its own facilities and attractions. It has an entirely different character and expanded purpose.’

And Kop Dakpark?

Wouter: ‘Of course we’ve been looking at it, and have been for some time. It is a challenge to find the right approach to the area with everything that comes together here.’

Marcel: ‘In our opinion, it’s really the tail of the Dakpark, but that is because we are developing at the other side (Diepeveen).’

What do you hope that Europan brings?

Wouter: ‘There are so many great things happening in this competition. For us, it’s an incredible opportunity to experience how a new generation of architects sees things, and how our city is viewed from an international perspective.’

Marcel: ‘The competition will bring all sorts of ideas. It may be that some ideas are good and some not so strong. It’s important that the process is iterative and together we determine what ideas have value and what ideas do not. We can together determine how to remove the elements that don’t work, and then invest in developing those ideas that have great potential.’

Wouter: ‘We hope that Europan brings ideas from other countries. There is always the risk that if you are too invested in your own context, your vision is narrowed. This kind of competition motivates us as a developer to determine other, new, better ways of doing things. We can look at how things work in Berlin or Hamburg and learn from the innovation they apply there. This ultimately serves our interests. These competitions help us to learn from an international context.’

Do you have any advice for the competitors?

Wouter: It’s important that they understand that their plans must be realistic. Strong plans are those that at the end of the day can be developed. Drawings must be attractive and engaging, but they also must be workable.

Marcel: We see some nice dreams but some things can really only remain dreams. These do make you think on a different level, but it’s really a combination of dreaming and doing. However, designers must think on another level, and understand that we must develop something. We encourage them to design something that can be realized, not just a nice brochure.

Wouter: If they want to make something new and exciting, understand that it has to have purpose, don’t just add it because it makes a nice competition feature. It has to bring something to the table; some larger value or purpose. This doesn’t mean that it has to be something you live or work in. It can also have another value, something people can be productive with. Make a statement but ensure that that statement has a function.

Wouter: We’re very pleased to be involved and very happy with the positive vibe.