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D

Darkstar416

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The Sched:
Amsterdam I
Amsterdam II
Rotterdam I
Rotterdam II
Paris I
Paris II
Paris III
London I
London II

Another week, another city...

From the world's smallest metropolis, we head to arguably the world's most architecturally daring. Since Rotterdam had been utterly destroyed in WWII the Dutch decided to get creative and sign the city over to a variety of daring young architects. Therefore, bright colours and unusual shapes dot the landscape to the point that you begin to wonder if some of these young architects maybe spent a wee bit too long in an Amsterdam coffee shop! Still, there's nothing else like it in the world and it's hard not to be impressed by the sheer audacity of the place.

While some of the pictures may suggest a post-war North American-looking city, that wouldn't be totally fair either. The public realm is everywhere whether it be art, cycling, transit or pedestrian infrastructure making it quite different than your average North American metropolis. Also, since we were only in Rotterdam for a day, we weren't able to investigate Rotterdam's cultural life, but I suspect it's fairly decent for a city of its size. Despite that, it isn't what I'd consider a very "warm" city. It's more cold and angular in many ways (but that's not always a bad thing).

While Rotterdam may only be an hour from Amsterdam on the intercity, the differences are very stark. We found Amsterdam to be all about the subtleties, where Rotterdam is quite the opposite.

One more thing...I need to thank our friend "ronald1987" (from Urban Toronto) for giving us a first-hand tour of the place (and also for helping me to caption all these pictures). Honestly, I don't know the height and name of every Rotterdam building (I'm not that much of a geek), so I have Ronald to thank for that! A few of the pics Ronald took can be found here:

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Here is Rotterdam...

We arrived via Rotterdam Central Station (with its wonderful 1970s facade). Unfortunately, this will be demolished shortly! In 2009 a brand new station will open on the site.
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Offices of the Nationale Nederlandenan insurance company. The height of the building to the left (Called 'Delftse Poort', construced in 1992) is 151m making it the tallest in the BeNeLux.
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The Nationale Nederlanden complex (cont.)
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Older developments in the area behind Central Station, a lesser known area of downtown Rotterdam.
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The Unilever H.Q. (50m tall). Designed by Hoogstad Architects.
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The stilted Unilever H.Q. (cont.)
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Unilever H.Q. (cont.)
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The Millennium Tower, completed in 2002. This building houses the Westin Hotel. It's height measures 149m. This building was co-designed by WZMH Architects, who I believe have also been active in Toronto.
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Modern developments along the Weena. A couple of see-through buildings can be found in Rotterdam.
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An older tram with updated livery. RET is the transit service for Rotterdam.
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Why most of the Dutch ride bikes.
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A glimpse of the Hofplein Fountain can be seen to the right, City Hall (in the centre) is one of the very few survivors of the war and was built in 1924. In the background, the World Trade Centre can be seen (the green building).
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Inside Rotterdam City Hall.
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Rotterdam City Hall (cont.)
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Rotterdam City Hall (cont.)
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Rotterdam City Hall (cont.)
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The Lijnbaan, Rotterdam's main shopping street. This is a pedestrian-only area. Functional architecture rules here.
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The Schouwburg Square. Downtown's biggest cinema and a theatre are located here. The theatre can be seen in the background. The Red Cranes are designed by West-8 and are user-controllable (even though they're currently broke).
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Torontonions take note...West 8 was the winning entry in redesigning our central waterfront!
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The Cranes and Schouwburg Square. We are facing north-east (towards Weena) in this picture.
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More from Schouwburgplein.
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High-rise mixed-use flats dot the area as well.
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Same building (near the Lijnbaan) which is mostly comprised of social housing. Keep in mind though that "social housing" isn't a bad word in Holland.
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An office building with a box sticking out of its side. It won't be the last one like this either!
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The Koopgoot! A privately realized development (the City of Rotterdam participated as a stakeholder). It was completed in the mid-nineties. F.Y.I...those stairs are designed so that it's impossible to run up. Shoplifters be warned!
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More of the Koopgoot. Security guards constantly patrol this area (and picture taking isn't allowed). The area is free of bums and other 'unpleasant types.' After all, that might cost them sales!
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Dan and Ron discussing the view over a coffee. We are on a roof-top patio here above a department store. The beige building in the background (the Coppervaert) will open soon.
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A view of Rotterdam...the 'pencil' residential tower can be seen in the centre, with the main library to its left. To the right, the Cube Dwellings can be seen.
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Skyscrapercluster along Blaak Avenue.
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Skyscrapers in Rotterdam are quite colourful in general.
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Rotterdam's WTC (World Trade Centre) is on the left.
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Another view from the top of the department store.
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The Koopgoot...again.
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The Pencil residential tower. A perfect example of Rotterdam's notoriously daring architecture.
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If it's Tuesday...it's Marketday!
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Rotterdam's transportation network on a wall in the Rotterdam Public Library.
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How perfect! A Skyscraper Expo in Rotterdam's Public Library. The CN Tower is still the tallest in the world...but not for much longer!
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More of the Skyscraper (and boat?) Expo in Rotterdam's Public Library. That's the Queen Mary II and the Titanic in the foreground.
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A bit of the skyline and the market. To the right, a new residential tower will rise.
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The Cube Dwellings. There's 39 of these! They were built in 1984 and designed by Piet Blom.
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The windows of The Pencil residential tower.
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Dome at the Blaak intermodal public transit station, where tram, metro and national rail lines intersect.
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A view towards the Erasmus Bridge from the Rotterdam Public Library.
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The Pencil (cont.)
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The Cube Dwellings...or in Dutch the Kubuswoning.
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The Cube Dwellings (cont.)
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The Cube Dwellings (cont.)
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The Cube Dwellings (cont.)
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A temporary palm tree, the Cube Dwellings and the Pencil Tower all in one picture!
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One of the cubes is a permanent museum to showcase this type of living. Here we are inside the kitchen!
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Inside the Cube Dwellings (cont.)
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Inside the Cube Dwellings (cont.)
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The view from a cube.
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The Blaak intermodal transit station from a different angle.
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Rotterdam's first skyscraper, dating back to the late 19th century. It's part of a small row of buildings that were spared during WWII.
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The Willemsbrug.
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And that's Rotterdam I. Rotterdam II is here:

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