Just over a month ago I made a flying visit to the beautiful city of Rotterdam. I was travelling light and for one crazy second even considered leaving my camera at home entirely – concentrating on staying light as I knew we’d be carrying our luggage most of the weekend. “Maybe my new iPhone XS would do?” I thought. Common sense prevailed of course, and I sacrificed my luggage entirely, choosing instead to cram the absolute minimum clothing into my camera bag as opposed to the other way round.
The second we stepped off the bus into the city I realised I’d made the right decision. Despite knowing I wasn’t going to have the luxury of walking around shooting all weekend I’d have hated to have been without my camera. As a bustling port city that was almost entirely wiped out in the Second World War, Rotterdam has been rebuilt and reborn as a vibrant, dynamic and visually engaging city with incredible architecture everywhere you look.
Immediately we were hit with the imposing skyline of the Centraal Station whose aggressive angles literally points new visitors to the city centre. Our first stop was the Euromast – a 100 metre high observation tower with a revolving lift taking you up to 185 metres and a 360 degree view of the unique skyline.
A personal highlight for me was the incredible Kijk-Kubus or Cube Houses. Designed by architect Piet Blom these are part of the Blaakse Bos development which borders on the Laurenskwartier district and the Waterfront area. The architect wanted to design a kind of village within the city and saw the houses as trees and the whole development area as a wood. ‘Blaakse Bos’ in Dutch means Blaakse Wood. The Cube Houses are tipped to one side, making three sides face the ground and three face the sky. They’re unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and a photographer’s delight as every direction you look there are insane angles and mind-bending views.
Just over the road from the Cube Houses we found De Markthal – an incredible combination of colourful indoor market and luxury housing. The apartments drape over the stalls below in a horseshoe configuration and their windows are completely engulfed by a massive artwork sprawling across the ceiling: the ‘Horn of Plenty’ by Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam. Thanks to this grand span of art, the Markthal has been referred to as the Dutch version of the Sistine Chapel. It really is quite something and you could lose yourself for hours inside (and we did).
It’s a city of hidden gems, whether it be street art or beautiful little discoveries like De Luchtsingel – a 390-metre-long wooden pedestrian bridge in the city centre linking the Schieblock, a creative meeting place, with Station Hofplein, the former station building that is now home to a number of restaurants, shops and a jazz club.