You should always arrive in Rotterdam by train. That way, as you leave the station, you can turn around, as I did last month, put your bag down and look back at one of the most joyful buildings in the world. It’s the most exuberantly designed transportation hub since architect Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center at Idlewild Airport (later renamed JFK). Rotterdam Station soars, ignoring gravity, a balletic leap captured in steel, glass and wood.
This is the architectural test kitchen of Europe.
In any other city it would be a centrepiece, probably an anomaly, like Bilbao’s Guggenheim or Toronto’s City Hall. But in Rotterdam, it fits right in. This is a city of wild experimentation, the architectural test kitchen of Europe, a post-war Dubai or Doha, but done better. Instead of being thrown up by a single generation of wealthy people looking to make a global reputation, Rotterdam has evolved over three quarters of a century in response to the developing needs of its people and the times they have lived in. It’s a liveable, walkable, bikeable city. But it’s managed, like those Gulf state insta-cities, to impress at every turn, not with two or three standout buildings – a Transamerica Pyramid here, a Walt Disney Concert Hall there ­– but dozens.
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- © january of 2018 -
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