“Keep room for proliferation, don’t make it too polished”

"Keep room for proliferation, don't make it too polished

It is an area of extremes, the Rotterdam Central District. The creatives and entrepreneurs from varied corners of the culture easily mix with the office types working for large corporations. A guardian of this melting pot, which is unique in the Netherlands, is District East. This interest group fought with verve for the preservation of the 'humus layer' Schiekadeblok, where those types meet.

For Nadîja Roza Broekhart, the Schiekadeblok, the easternmost part of the Rotterdam Central District (RCD), feels like home. After a nomadic living all throughout Rotterdam, she managed to settle Roodkapje - an inclusive, energetic and inviting creative breeding ground making current art events accessible to a diverse audience – a home there. But it is also using the District East interest group to connect the area with the southern and western parts of the RCD and the rest of the city.

The Central Station is like a shiny barrier between Nadîja and Roodkapje, sitting on the corner of Delftseplein and Delftsestraat, when she sits at Lebkov sipping her tea. In the conversation she regularly sets Roodkapje, breathing life to RCD plinth through its important leisure and cultural, as an example. “From our multifunctional perspective we offer a varied public program,” she says firmly. “Roodkapje revolves around art, live, habitation and food, these activities tightly interacting with each other. Our events are polyphonic, they reinforce each other. Our exhibition space, music venue, hamburger restaurant (Burgertrut) and the studios of our residency program (Hamburger Community of Art and Live) are used to accommodating all kinds of talented creators who work together and present their projects to an engaged audience. We are accessible, which is why you will not see us in the Merwe-Vierhaven area, which is much less reachable to the public we want to engage, including those from outside Rotterdam. You could say that we are an essential culture player in the RCD, but we are nowhere without other actors. It is precisely the mix that makes it so valuable. ”

Temporality as opportunity

Her eyes shine when she talks about the fact that the city council of Rotterdam almost unanimously adopted the plan to renovate the Schiekadeblok, while retaining the culture and architecture that is so characteristic of it. District East and the Rotterdam Central District Association have fought hard for this, she says. “But now we are only really starting. By entering into dialogues with developers such as Coöperatie Delftsestraat and ZUS / Lingotto, we try to bring our principles to the fore. These two development clubs share the ambition to maintain the current culture. This is not only about low-threshold rents and preserving the raw architecture of the buildings being reconstructed, but also about ensuring that the established entrepreneurs return to the further developed District East. Without passionate entrepreneurs and creativity, there is no leading District East. ”

In the coming years, District East will follow another track: transience as opportunity. “During the planning and construction, the Schiekadeblok must retain its vibrancy,” says Nadîja Roza Broekhart. “We have to keep going so that the humus layer doesn't disappear, to use the parking lot behind Biergarten and Annabel for initiatives. ” She closes with a strict message: Keep going! “Think out of the box to enable initiatives and experiments from the creative sector. Keep room for sprawl, don't make it too polished.”

Fruitful cooperation

District East is a member of the Rotterdam Central District Association. For the chairman of the association Hans de Jonge, it was important that this club commits itself to the Schiekadeblok with resilience. “We are united in our initiative,” he says visibly satisfied. “In developing the area, the municipality wanted to talk to one stakeholder and not all of the individual entrepreneurs. We already have robust contact with Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman from architectural firm ZUS. They have been in the Schieblock for 20 years and thus know the area through and through. Together with the entrepreneurs behind Biergarten and "Op het dak", they have the organizational abilities and energy to commit to it. By working well together, one and one became three. ”

Not a residential area!

"We stand our Ground" is written on a strikingly red poster. On the back is the vision document of District East detailing what they are committed to do. The architecture must be preserved, but this breeding ground for creatives must not become a residential area. "People also live here, but District East is not a residential area! It is the heart of the city with a mix of living, working and culture. Focus on the plinths, the public spaces and programming. " In order to preserve the sustainable mix of diversity and liveliness built up from the past, there must be a supply of affordable working and living spaces. That is essential for the business climate. "District East is authentic, this is ensured by the lack of big chains and hyper-competition. In this way we keep the diverse area in which small and large-scale entrepreneurs merge in a 24-hour culture cycle. "

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