In search for an indoor activity (still negative degrees in Rotterdam and let’s not mention all that ocean breeze wheezing through the city) we settle on a tour around the harbor of Rotterdam. Not quite indoor but the boat it nicely heated. But before we leave, let’s have a look at Rem Koolhaas‘ dancing building – de Rotterdam. A vertical city, it is supposed to change shapes as you drive across the river on the Erasmus Bridge. An no, Erasmus of Rotterdam is not the architect of the bridge, he was a 15th century humanist who encouraged studies and studying abroad. Today, he is the namesake of the famous Erasmus+ program that allows European students to study and work abroad within the EU.
The boat leaves Erasmus Bridge and passes landmarks like the entrance to the Maastunnel and the Euromast on the way to Europoort (the harbor area). As the skyline of Rotterdam gets smaller and the ships and cranes larger and larger, we pass the first storage units of the harbor, used to store perishable goods such as fruit and vegetables.
The boatride is enjoyable and the sheer amount of containers and cranes is quite impressive. On the way back, the boat makes two little detours into the harbor basins and circuits a massive freight ship before heading back to the city center.
So where do those products go after being unloaded in the harbor? Some used to go to this factory, now Unesco World Heritage Site. Van Nelle Factory was a factory that processed tea, coffee and tobacco. But what makes it special is the architecture, described by le Corbusier as the most beautiful spectacle of the modern age. It depicts an architectural style called International Style, a style that emerged after WWI in this part of Europe.
For a factory, it sure is very open – thanks to the glass walls – and well-lit. It considered an improved environment for the factory workers as beneficial for production. Highly innovative architecture facilitated production and ameliorated working conditions, it even has an recreation area.
Unfortunately, tours are not daily so we could not go inside, but there are regular events at the factory and more than a few rooms are rented out as creative spaces.
February 28th – March 2nd 2018