ZUS: rebel with a cause

ZUS: rebel with a cause

It’s a bit of an ugly duckling in the midst of all the work spaces in RCD: the Schieblock. Homebase to startups, creative minds and enticing places for an evening out like Biergarten, Annabel and, of course, ZUS ; the initiator of the Schieblock, with Kristian and Elma at the helm. In a previous interview with Lotte Haagsma, they were called ‘the buccaneers of urban design, the artisans of the new city who welded together rough neighbourhoods with a few well-placed interventions’.

Even before the economic crisis, there were plans for demolition and renewal in the area that is now called Rotterdam Central District (RCD). We know that Rotterdam can take down buildings like no other and ZUS has always been committed to a more gradual development that leaves room for historic buildings from after the Second World War.

“We’ve been here for 18 years already. We are a firm specialising in architecture, urban design and landscape and give both solicited and unsolicited advice about projects, commissioned or not. Since our arrival in the Schieblock in the year 2000, we have become more and more fascinated by the area and how, on the one hand, there was this kind of shinyness with multinationals and, on the other hand, there was a kind of ghetto. And we were smack in the middle of it all. From that fascination, we came on our own initiative to take a fresh entrepreneurial look at the area. We wanted to get a feel for new opportunities, in a spatial sense, but also among the different types of entrepreneurs here. By connecting people. That is how we began building a laboratory of sorts with all kinds of projects, big and small.

In that sense, we managed to save the buildings around the Schieblock from demolition and actually get the area up and running again. Thanks to the crisis, there has been a change of heart that perhaps it is worthwhile to preserve existing buildings and to have another look at how we can make a different kind of city.”


This article is published in STRICT magazine. You can read the full story online: https://rotterdam-centraldistrict.nl/strict/