Producing the Contemporary City

24 May - 2 September 2007
PowerNotes #2
Exploring Bloemhof and Slaghek


Rotterdam - Tuesday 22 May 2007


After enjoying a delicious lunch in 't Gemaal the fourteen groups of the masterclass dispersed to explore the sites in Rotterdam-Zuid.
Lloyd Muskiet (architect at the municipality) guided four groups (3xBerlage, 1xETH) around Bloemhof and Hillesluis. Lloyd started with an explanation of the situation on the Afrikaanderplein where the mosque couldn't add a new minaret as a consequence of former Alderman Marco Pastors’ somewhat paranoid political combat against so-called foreign architecture. The four teams continued their tour investigating the neighbourhood. Maybe because of the beautiful weather or the peaceful scene of mothers with children walking by, some students commented that nothing seems to be really wrong here. Lloyd explained that Bloemhof and Hillesluis do suffer some structural problems. The urgent need for well functioning community centres is one of them.
The first actual site visited was Wielslag (Bloemhof). This is a former 'red spot', where small seedy bars thrived and junkies hang out. Recently the local authorities demolished some of the buildings to create space for a multifunctional accommodation (MFA), a community centre combined with educational and day care facilities. The sad story is that the drug problems and related crime activities found a new zone in the street across, where several private homeowners exploit their property by renting it out to dealers. Another problem of this site is the odd functioning of the traffic junction and the lack of proper water storage after heavy rainfall.

The tour then went on to find– in between all of the misery- the hidden pearl of Patrimoniushof. This courtyard survived as a green oasis thanks to bottom up initiatives of the inhabitants.
A few streets further on we found the Klushuizen/Bikkelhuizen. The badly maintained houses here are bought up by the municipality and offered for very low prices on one strict condition: the new owners should invest structurally in renovating.

Next door there is the second site: Slagheklocatie (Hillesluis). Here resides the impressive  Essalam mosque, which seems still to be under construction. This location has even more complications. It borders on the main railroad going southwards. Also there is a huge junction with lots of traffic, smells and noise. Many plans have been made for this isolated area. The mosque is surrounded by a dull green were locals walk their dogs but never bother to clean up after. In spite of the sunny weather the area doesn't come off as 'gezellig'. It will not be an easy thing for the students to change this area into the pride of the neighbourhood.

"The informal city doesn't produce garbage. It recycles itself." (Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner in Carácas. The Informal City, 2007)