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Aerial view of Oude Westen with superimposed route and interventions
Aerial view of Oude Westen with superimposed route and interventions

Collage of revitalized public area along the route
Collage of revitalized public area along the route

Wood model of planning area with interventions marked in purple
Wood model of planning area with interventions marked in purple

Detailed urban plan
Detailed urban plan

Courtyard of revitalized block
Courtyard of revitalized block

Entrance to arcade through block
Entrance to arcade through block

Aerial view of architectural proposal
Aerial view of architectural proposal





PROJECTINDEX
 
SEQUENCE
Technische Universiteit Eindhoven
ARCHITECTURE

A walk through Rotterdam’s Old West quarter
The design consists of an urban plan that unfurls a sequence of public spaces. Subtly inserted across the the context, these interventions combine as an area of encounter. One of the interventions has been worked up into an architectural plan. The project seeks to show that design briefs in a larger urban area can be more firmly stitched together by uniting architecture and urban design.
It was the train of thought in Gordon Cullen’s book ‘The Concise Townscape’ that prompted my final-year research project. This regards the city from the perspective of an observer moving through it and introduces what Cullen calls ‘the art of the environment’. While historical cities possess this art, it has irrefutably vanished from today’s urban design practice. Walking through an urban setting, we seek to become intuitively conscious of our position and relate to our surroundings.
In considering how perspectives open and close as we move through the city, a range of relationships with the surroundings can be discovered and created.
The study assesses whether ‘the art of the environment’ can make a difference to revitalizing an urban area. It began with the following research questions: When viewing Oude Westen from the perspective of Cullen and Jacobs, how can we use the intermediate area as an architectural means to revitalize Oude Westen and mediate between an autonomous urban area and the rest of the city? And how can an observation help when creating new interventions and revitalizing public spaces along this intermediate area that lock into Oude Westen’s identity?’
I investigated the area using a series of observations, from which I drew a number of conclusions. The urban plan I drew up in response to these conclusions shows interventions subtly inserted into their surroundings at a number of locations. A ‘toolbox’ developed for the plan acts as a framework for all these interventions.
The architectural plan helped to test the toolbox. Contrasts in the frontage within the block are to respect the perimeter and history of the city blocks in the area. This plan is valuable in showing in many ways how we should deal in an urban context with the siting of city blocks along the public route.

Thinking about the art of the environment while making the design made me aware of the qualities of a specific place in relation to a greater whole. A ‘melody’ for the city can be found by closely studying that city through the eyes of people moving through it to their own rhythm and harmonies. This melody has highs and lows but should always be read as a single entity.