Save the Lijnbaan - post-war icon of the Rotterdam reconstruction era
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In a strange twist of events the southern part of the Rotterdam icon of the Lijnbaan shopping centre by the Van den Broek and Bakema office is about to be wiped out by a redevelopment plan of OMA/Koolhaas and Wessel de Jonge. It's all rather ironic, given the fact that the city of Rotterdam celebrates this year 75 years of post-war reconstruction, ironic too, since the northern part will be restored to its former glory.
For those who are not familiar with the importance of the Lijnbaan a brief history. After World War II which brought the annihilation of the Rotterdam innercity by the German bombardment of May 1940, the Rotterdammers decided to build their city according to a challenging new and completely modernist city plan. One of the key elements was the construction of a new shopping centre, the so-called Lijnbaan. In a unique collaboration between the architects Van den Broek and Bakema and others, the shop owners, the local elite of entrepeneurs and city hall a most advanced piece of urban design was developed, which saw the first pedestrianized shopping street in the world in combination with high rise housing and other innercity amenities, all brought together by a coherent urban ensemble of a forward looking and optimistic modern architecture style. There is no comparable Dutch architectural and urban project of the period that made such an impact. The American historian Lewis Mumford called it a 'triumph'. Manfredo Tafuri and Francesco Dal Co characterized the result as a 'true heart of the metropolis'.
Back to Rotterdam 2016. Initially, the so-called Forumplan left the Lijnbaan shops untouched but after a few rounds of budget cuts and changes, this bit of the scheme was almost casually erased as to accommodate a few extra square meters of shops. The local website Vers Beton was the first to report, here is a link to the article by Ferrie Weeda. The scheme will destroy the urban coherence of the whole ensemble and erase the original architecture at this particular site of the Lijnbaan.
Together with the Bakema family and former collaborator Frans Hooykaas we published an open letter supported by many, among others John Habraken, Wim Pijbes, Kristin Feireiss and Sjarel Ex. It has been published in the Dutch media but a happy end is far from sure. This week and next week the city holds a few meetings in which irreversible decisions will be taken. The Dutch press reported on our letter which you can find among others with De Architect here and with ArchiNed
If you want to express your concern, please sign our petition.
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Dirk van den Heuvel, Eric Bakema, Brita Bakema and Frans Hooykaas
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