Nederland, Rotterdam, 04-11-2022. Stadsmakerscongres 2022. Werktafelsessies 'Koers opZuid'. Foto: Erno Wientjens.

“Rotterdam Zuid has everything – except cohesion.”

Jeroen de Willigen, creative director and urban planner at De Zwarte Hond, looks back at the work table session with Rotterdam city makers during the City Makers Congress 2022. His reflections are summarized in the publication Koers op Zuid Gazet, which was compiled by the City of Rotterdam and De Zwarte Hond.

As lead designer, De Willigen calls for the initiation of new connections: “We can repair the frayed urban fabric by interweaving threads. We can do this by addressing each other in a non-biased, informal and open-minded way – and letting everyone have their say,” he says, paraphrasing Arjen van Veelen.

The good, often very enthusiastic, conversations that took place between the city makers, at the eight different work tables, in Theater Zuidplein on November 4 were therefore extremely valuable, and the large turnout was inspiring.

An approach for Rotterdam Zuid consisting of purely pragmatic, sectoral and isolated solutions is not going to help the area. De Willigen: “That wouldn’t bring the cohesion that the Zuid district needs so much, and anyway these sectoral solutions require more space, money and time. Solving these issues integrally is the direction in which we must – and want to – look here. This requires knowledge, vision, ownership and direction.”

As the most valuable insight from this work table session, De Willigen mentions the broadly shared confidence among those present that the Zuid district can largely fend for itself: many of the solutions are inherent in the character and quality of the existing city. We should not think too small for these solutions, but certainly not too big either.

The Koers op Zuid Gazet can be found here (in Dutch language). In the run-up to the municipal adoption of this area elaboration of the Environmental Vision, the city council is organizing various ways and moments to discuss the plan. The work table session at the City Makers Congress was the kick-off for this participation process.