On Wednesday afternoon on the 19th of September Atelier Tarwewijk formed the stage for ‘Kijk maar uit, het komt van Zuid’. Aim of the seminar was to bring to attention the broad complexity and challenges in Southern Rotterdam and to shed some light on persisting questions and stumbling points. This serves as input for the extensive research ‘Hard werken op Zuid’ about transformation of the existing housing stock. It was a multi-facated gathering, in which insights from many different disciplines and proposals from graduates formed the basis for a discussion on the applicability of these ideas on the neighbourhoods of Rotterdam.
Prof. Pieter Tordoir (economic geography, University of Amsterdam) and dr. Gwen van Eijk (criminology, University of Leiden) have shed their light on the subject. Prof. Tordoir focused on the social-economic developments of South Rotterdam from a regional perspective, in which the need for the education of youngsters in technical sectors forms an important starting point. Using a set of maps, prof. Tordoir showed that the assignment in South is not a case of a few bad neighbourhoods with outdated real-estate, but that it’s about a structural arrears in education level and economic activity. This while in the future there is a need for properly educated employees. As such, prof. Tordoir also stated, somewhat provocatively, that an investment in the inhabitants of southern Rotterdam is of greater significance than the billions that were invested in the harbour developments of the Tweede Maasvlakte.
Dr. Gwen van Eijk zoomed in on social processes in neighbourhoods and place strong marginal comments on the assumption that the mixing of highly and low educated in urban renewal projects would lead to more interaction, which would then result in social-societal developments for the underprivileged. Increasing ones chances starts with acquiring the right papers, only then does the network start to play a role, not vice versa. Mixing can be desirable, she determined, but we don’t need to expect that the interactions in the public space will lead to social capital.
Students, professors from TU Delft and professionals from the municipality, corporations and other institutions involved in the innovation challenge of Southern Rotterdam found discussion.
In addition to the assignment in South Rotterdam, the seminar also consisted of a book presentation and the opening of a exhibition, both carrying the title ‘Transforming Housing Heritage’. Essence of which is formed by the architecture students in the studio of RMIT and Veldacademie. Two of these students, Mark Radstake en Theodora Radopolou, supplemented by Pieter Graaff, presented their different approaches for dealing with existing housing complexes. Lidwine Spoormans (Studio LS and tutor at the TU Delft) ended the afternoon with a plead for a diversity in possible solutions for the renovation assignment.
The publication ‘Transforming Housing Heritage, projects for regeneration of Rotterdam Feijenoord & Lombardijen’, W.J. Quist (red.) & L.G.K. Spoormans (red) with graduation project of RMIT / Veldacademie is available in bookstores.