The current situation
Around Rotterdam’s Alexander Station, on the east side of the city, the hard boundaries of infrastructure close off a work and retail area from the surrounding residential neighbourhoods. The location is in one of the deepest polders in the Netherlands, the Alexander Polder, and is surrounded by post-war garden-city neighbourhoods.Rotterdam faces a major housing challenge and the city sees opportunities for densification at Rotterdam Alexander. The municipality therefore requested an attractive vision for the area in order to guide future developments in the so-called Alexanderknoop (Alexander node) around the station. DZH collaborated with Felixx (green-blue strategy), SITE (development strategy) and Studio Bereikbaar (mobility support), on elaborating this development perspective. The result is a broadly supported future narrative.
Challenges for the Alexanderknoop
Planned as a post-war garden city with its own community centre, neighbourhood centres, work area, and an abundance of green and blue spaces, the Prins Alexander borough has long functioned as a self-contained part of Rotterdam that seemed ‘finished’. However, Rotterdam and Prins Alexander face various transitions, related to the changing needs of residents, users and businesses – and the Alexanderknoop must adapt to these too. It is important to realize that the Alexanderknoop is the everyday ‘centre’ for almost 200,000 Rotterdam Oost (East Rotterdam) and Capellen residents. Thinking about the future of the Alexanderknoop, about urgent questions and unmissable opportunities, automatically means thinking about Rotterdam Oost.
Ambitions and frameworks
For the development perspective, De Zwarte Hond focused on its 6 Principles Strategy to drive the transformation of the functional, but rather soulless, Alexander node into a lively and green heart for Rotterdam Oost. The framework for this development defines sub-areas and sets accents without there yet being a detailed plan. It creates the framework for future developments and allows each to take place at its own pace – it is even possible that some places will not be developed at all. The framework also outlines the main structure for landscape, mobility, space and programme. The various sub-areas each have their own identity, mix of functions, development pace and spatial expression. Everything comes together in the city centre of Alexanderknoop, which requires more precision in elaboration and in imagination. The result is a mosaic of places and main structures.
Area transformation hand in hand with mobility transition
In order to be able to live up to the qualities of the mosaic, the traffic system requires adjustments putting the pedestrian first (the Walkable City principle). Traffic will be routed around the centre as much as possible and buses will no longer go straight through the area. The Alexander Station will become a clearer element of the Alexanderlaan and will also be located on the new Alexanderplaats, a public square. Road profiles will be adjusted to create more space for slow traffic and for green and blue. Relationships with adjacent buildings will also be strengthened, and crossings and traversability will be improved. Introverted buildings turn outwards thanks to attractive plinths, making the public space the place to be. It will be much more pleasant to spend time there – an effect which is further enhanced by greening the public space that becomes available when car presence is reduced.
Programmatic mixing and intensification
To most people, the Alexanderknoop is known as a collection of loose, separated fragments – as a shopping centre, office location, business park or mobility hub. These fragments are functional, but together they do not form an attractive, cohesive inner-city environment. In the future, the composition and cohesion of the functions will change considerably. Most notable is the increase in housing. On the one hand, this is a goal (after all, there is a great need for more homes in the city), but on the other hand, it is a means to increase a feeling of liveliness, sense of ownership and support for facilities. It helps to create a mixed urban area where living, working and spending time become more pleasant. By adding homes, mainly in medium-rise buildings, the spaciousness of the Alexander area is preserved, while the human dimension is strengthened.
Heart of the east: a regional centre
The Alexander node of the future is the beating heart of the eastern Rotterdam Oost district and an essential part of the 21st-century polycentric city of Rotterdam. The Alexanderknoop of 2040 is the greenest, healthiest and among the best accessible central districts in the Netherlands, where you will find the best of both worlds: the dynamism and proximity of city life and the peace, space and greenery of the garden city’s outdoor lifestyle. The Alexander node smoothly merges these two worlds together.
Gebiedsvisie Rotterdam Alexanderknoop
De Zwarte Hond has drawn up a development perspective for the area around Rotterdam’s Alexander station, commissioned by the municipality of Rotterdam. This will transform the functional ‘Alexander node’ into a place: a highly urban city centre for the Rotterdam Oost district. This means a transition from a functional transfer machine and peripheral shopping centre to a green, vibrant urban place with a contemporary mix of living, working, studying and shopping. The area around Rotterdam Alexander station is in need for improvement. Existing functions such as shops and offices require a quality impulse. Residents of the surrounding neighbourhoods do not regard it as ‘their’ centre. To turn the Alexander area into an inviting, pleasant environment, a solid spatial transformation is required, with attention to the human dimension, health, and climate adaptation. To achieve this, 8 thousand homes and cultural and social facilities need to be added and buildings with closed façades should change into mixed-use complexes with an active plinth. This transformation provides the ideal conditions for a mobility transition. The Alexander is and will remain a transport junction, too. Because in many cases daily life can be organised closer to home, more people can walk, cycle and use public transport. A finely woven pedestrian and bicycle network and a cleaner public transport network will be created in the area and partial mobility will be encouraged. At the same time, the car also continues to play an important role. In this way, we create a self-reinforcing mechanism consisting of 6 Principles: by Densifying and Mixing functions, space is created for Spending Time and Greening, and we can Refine the urban fabric and make the Alexander area more Sustainable.
- Gebiedsvisie Rotterdam Alexanderknoop
- Rotterdam, NL
- Gemeente Rotterdam
- Research, Urban Design
- Infrastructure, Integrale verstedelijkingsstrategie, Verstedelijkingsstrategie
- Development Phase
- Felixx Landscape Architects and Planners, SITE urban developers & Studio Bereikbaar
- More info