What ‘s your link with RCD?
In 2014 the City of Rotterdam approached me to succeed Hans de Boer as chair of the RCD Association after he became president of VNO-NCW. As a professor at TU Delft and board chair at Brink Groep, I’d already been involved in several strategic projects in Rotterdam. Later, when Brink Groep moved its western branches to the Groothandelsgebouw, I also became a ‘local’, as it were. But as a Rotterdammer born and bred, obviously I already knew the district well.
You’re chairman of the RCD Association. What is it about this position that drew you?
RCD is a vital part of the city. To advance the city’s economic objectives, we need innovative companies, good links, educated professionals, affordable housing and good residential environments. RCD already offers a lot of that and can accomplish a great deal more through partnerships with public and private entities. It has grown into a place where big transnational corporations, small innovative startups and creative and cultural organizations all work together, and where a huge amount of new housing will be added over the coming years. I want to help make that happen.
What sorts of things is the Association doing to inject even more life into this district?
We’re connecting people and organizations around three core themes: vibrancy, sustainability and mobility. For the first one, the ‘eye-level experience’ is key. We’re encouraging buildings to open up their ground floor spaces for public functions like eating, cultural activities and meeting places. By programming activities in the district and creating plans to make it greener and more sustainable – in terms of energy, water, heat, etc. – we’re hoping to give this part of the city a boost. Mobility is obviously a big issue in RCD, which has lots of traffic flows converging around the station and all the associated parking challenges we’re keen to tackle. We organize activities to maximize connections among people in RCD and so promote collaborative endeavours. Together, we can achieve more in this district than any one entity working alone.
If it were left up to you, what would you add or change in RCD?
I’d like to see the existing plans carried out at speed so we can see many more homes, green spaces and publicly accessible ground floor spaces in the near term.
What is it about this district that won your heart?
RCD has a combination of rough-around-the-edges and polished, corporate and startup, work life and home life that I think is very exciting. You don’t see much of that in cities and it creates tremendous possibilities for this district.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I hope readers will be just as intrigued as a I am and triggered to think about the future of this district or to suggest concrete actions. We’ll welcome new initiatives with open arms!
Hans de Jonge (69) - RCD Ambassador
Professor emeritus at TU Delft
Sailing, open water swimming, sculpting
Favourite spot in RCD:
Rotterdam CS centre-side entrance hall
TEXT Romy Lange