Rotterdam Viert De Stad! Rotterdam Celebrates The City!
Logo System
75 Jaar wederopbouw | 75 years of Rebuilding | Rotterdam Festivals

ProArtsDesign won the pitch for the monumental signage project that encompasses the activities for the different programs of the manifestation.
The design for this is still under development but what already IS there is a logo system which is the basis for the graphic identity and the marketing.

The system consists of 10 different silhouettes of a toddler having a go at it!

More will follow...

Fact sheet – 75 years of post-war reconstruction in Rotterdam

To view factsheet on Yumpu click here

Reconstruction in Rotterdam
‘Wederopbouw’, or Reconstruction, is the term used to describe the process of repairing the damage to our country after World War II. Rotterdam was one of the hardest hit cities in the Netherlands. The bombing of 14 May 1940 destroyed 24,000 homes, 2,400 shops and another 4,000 buildings, almost wiping out the entire city centre.

Parts of Kralingen and Noordereiland were also affected. More havoc was wreaked in the dockland areas later in the war years, and due to an oversight during an Allied bombing raid on the western part of the city in 1943, a further 2,600 homes were destroyed.

Reconstruction Plan
No stone was left unturned in rebuilding the city. On May 18, 1940, city architect Witteveen was commissioned to draw up a reconstruction plan. Within ten days, he had drafted a rough outline. The bombing was of course disastrous, but at the same time it was an opportunity to reconstruct the city and solve a number of major urban issues. From the outset, the guiding principle was to completely redesign the centre rather than restore the original street grid and repair important buildings. The 144 buildings which could have been renovated were instead demolished; only the Sint-Laurenskerk church, Town Hall, the Post Office and the Schielandshuis were preserved.

Initially, little progress was made in implementing the plans and during the subsequent war years, construction all but ground to a halt. However, the rubble was cleared and used to fill in watercourses like Schiekade, Blaak and Schiedamsevest.

At the end of the war Witteveen’s monumental, picturesque city plan was abandoned under the sway of Van Nelle director Kees van der Leeuw. The latter commissioned the construction of the world famous Van Nelle factory, a textbook example of the Modern Movement (Nieuwe Bouwen) and currently the principal industrial monument in the Netherlands. Witteveen’s assistant, Van Traa, signed the new Basic Plan. The new centre was radically redesigned and featured Coolsingel as the central boulevard.

One of the new urban planning concepts was the separation of functions, with offices, shops and other centre functions located in the city centre and housing in the outlying suburbs. The Basic Plan was primarily a road scheme and legal framework which provided room for different interpretations. A new road network meant more efficient traffic flow. New elements in the plan were shared business premises and avant-garde shopping centre De Lijnbaan, th first trafficfree pedestrian boulevard in Europe. Many of these new structures included loading and unloading streets.

Reconstruction architecture
Rotterdam architects Van den Broek & Bakema, Maaskant & Van Tijen, Kraaijvanger, Elffers and other agencies were tasked with the architectural design of the Basic Plan.

The contrast between traditionalist and modern architects gradually faded and new buildings in Rotterdam were designed in typical Reconstruction style, in which commercial, functional designs were combined with decorative elements. Important Reconstruction landmarks are the bank buildings along the Blaak, department stores Ter Meulen, C&A, Vroom & Dreesmann and Bijenkorf, the Groothandelsgebouw, Lijnbaan, Thalia cinema theatre, the Station Post Office and Rotterdam Central Station. This Reconstruction style is still evident in the typical architecture of especially the Pannekoekstraat, Hoogstraat and Mariniersweg.

During the economic boom in the late twentieth century much of the Reconstruction architecture was demolished or came under threat. At the same time, this architectural style experienced a resurgence in interest and after 1999 a number of Reconstruction buildings were granted protected status as a city monument.

Not only was the Reconstruction an important economic and social phase for Rotterdam, with distinctive architecture and innovative urban development, it was also a time of optimism. Welvaart in zwart wit (Prosperity in black and white) is the apt title of a book about post-war Netherlands. Reconstruction in Rotterdam was welcomed by the public with great enthusiasm.

Reconstruction Day is celebrated on 18 May every year to commemorate the date Witteveen began his reconstruction plan in 1947. From 1946, annual Reconstruction tours were organised to take interested parties along the various construction projects by bus. Major exhibitions such as Rotterdam Straks (1947), De Maasstad in de Steiger (1949) and Ahoy (1950) were well attended.

De Doelen, the first cultural building to be built after the war, opened on 18 May 1966. It was considered the final piece in the Reconstruction of Rotterdam. Publication of Rotterdam Stad in Beweging (Rotterdam, Dynamic City) by Rein Blijstra. Cas Oorthuys, Ed van Wijk, Molkenboer and Jan Kees Roovers published photo books which gave a good impression of this era.

There was much criticism in the 1970s of the bleak, businesslike reconstruction of the city and consequently this architecture, where living and working function were separated, was condemned. In the early 1990s, after the first buildings from the Reconstruction era were demolished, a renewed appreciation emerged for this style. In 1995, the 50th anniversary of Reconstruction was celebrated with various publications and a major exhibition. On 18 May of that year the iconic Nieuwe Delftse Poort designed by Cor Kraat was opened. The original Delftse Poort was destroyed in the bombing. This is not the only Reconstruction monument, however, as the famous statue Verwoeste Stad (Destroyed City) by Ossip Zadkine has adorned Plein 1940 since 1953.

Timeline: 75 milestones from 75 years of reconstruction

14 May 1940
At around half past one in the afternoon, the German Luftwaffe starts bombing Rotterdam centre, Kralingen, Provenierswijk, Oude Noorden and Liskwartier. The Blitz destroys more than 30,000 buildings and kills 800-900 people. Rotterdam capitulates.

18 May 1940
On orders from the German army, the City Council commissions director Witteveen of the City Building Control Department to clear up the rubble and rebuild the city. The estimated damage is 420 million Dutch guilders (over three billion euros in today’s money). On 30 October it is declared that “Virtually all of the rubble has been cleared.”

31 March 1941
The first pile is driven into the ground for the Rotterdamsche Bank on Coolsingel, on the grounds of the partially destroyed Coolsingel Hospital. It is also the symbolic first pile for the Reconstruction of Rotterdam after the bombing of May 1940.

14 February 1942
Without any further ceremony the Maastunnel, the first underground tunnel in the Netherlands and the longest in Europe, is opened for all traffic. The escalators are ready and the first cars are registered on 1 April 1942.

28 May 1946
Cornelis van Traa’s Basic Plan for the Reconstruction of Rotterdam is adopted by the City Council.

September 1946
The City Council inaugurates the first governing board of the Rotterdamse Kunststichting, (Rotterdam Arts Council). The Council’s aim is to stimulate the artistic sector in Rotterdam by organising activities, advising the government and encouraging artistic expression in order ‘to develop a healthy and vibrant art scene’.

A temporary theatre is set up in the Aert van Nesstraat, in an almost desolate environment. Rotterdam’s major theatre, De Groot Schouwburg (architect Verheul, 1887), had been partially damaged and although it could have been rebuilt, it is completely razed in the demolition frenzy. In 1988 the temporary theatre is replaced by the ‘Kist van Quist’, a box-shaped building designed by Wim Quist.

17 November 1950
Following an ‘in-depth study of self-service systems in America’, the first American-style supermarket is opened on the south side of the river.

June, August 1950
Rotterdam Ahoy! Manifestation. This port exhibition, organised to celebrate the restoration of the Rotterdam harbours, is a showcase for Dutch and Rotterdam ingenuity. The exhibition is held near the city centre.

New residential neighbourhoods, such as northern Kleinpolder and Overschie expansion plan, are developed by ‘idealistic urban planner’ Lotte Stam-Beese. These areas are designed to incorporate space, community gardens and playgrounds.

1951 Founding of the Argus artists’ group
Members are painters Jan Burgerhout, Kees French, Jan Goedhart, Charles Kemper, Louis van Roode, Ed van Zanden and sculptor Huib Noorlander. The group existed until 1964.

15 May 1953
Unveiling of Ossip Zadkine’s sculpture, Verwoeste Stad, on Plein 1940. The sculpture was a gift from Bijenkorf director Van der Wal.

3 July 1953
Opening of the Groothandelsgebouw, built to compensate for the loss of commercial premises during the war. Designed by Van Tijen en Maaskant architects, it is an ‘American-style multifunctional, multi-tenant building’ with a surface area of 120,000 m2, making it the largest building in the Netherlands.

October 1953
Opening of the Lijnbaan, designed by Van den Broek and Bakema architects. Of particular interest is that the two intersecting streets are both traffic-free. It is the first pedestrian promenade in Europe.

Hosting of Expo E55, the National Energy Manifestation, with Rotterdam as the ‘driving force’ of reconstruction in post-war Netherlands.

In 1957 Jaap and Arie Valkhoff open the Oasis bar, which existed until 1967. It is the venue of the levenslied, a characteristic genre of melancholic Dutch folk songs, sung by artists from around the country who come to Oasis to give spontaneous performances. Jaap Valkhoff became famous for his songs about Rotterdam, including the Feyenoord classic Hand in hand, kameraden.

21 May 1957
Opening of the new Rotterdam Central Station. Architect: Sybold van Ravesteyn.

10 December 1958
The first pile for the Euromast is driven into the ground in anticipation of the Floriade Manifestation in 1960.

Construction of the SS Rotterdam, one of the most famous post-war passenger ships. Sailing in the service of the Holland America Line, this ship was later renovated and opened to the public in 2010 at the Derde Katendrechtse Hoofd.

March - September 1960
The Floriade International Horticultural Exhibition Van kiem tot kracht (From seed to strength), is hosted on the grounds of E55 and attracts more than 3 million visitors.

The first foreign workers arrive in Rotterdam to work on rebuilding Rotterdam. A number of hotels for migrants are opened in subsequent years.

18 May 1966
De Doelen, the first cultural building to be built after the war, was considered the final piece in the Reconstruction of Rotterdam. In retrospect, the term ‘Doelen effect’ is used to mark the cultural reconstruction that also started to take place.

9 February 1968
Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus open the first metro network in the Netherlands, the Central Station- Zuidplein metro service. Construction of the metro line, designed to provide a faster connection between North and South Rotterdam, started in 1960.

Poet, writer, jazz connoisseur, and musician Jules Deelder, one of the most famous artists in Rotterdam, is appointed Night Mayor of Rotterdam, reportedly by a bicycle repair man who always saw him venture out into the streets at night. He is the first night mayor of the Netherlands.

Organisation of C70 manifestation. Where previous manifestations focused on rebuilding the port and industrial centre of Rotterdam, this time the event highlighted recreation and leisure activities. The city centre is showcased as an attractive place to live rather than exclusively as a working city.

Feyenoord wins the European Cup and the World Cup.

In 1970 the City Council announces a plan to fill in the Rotte river and build a motorway into the heart of the city.

June 1970
Hosting of the first Poetry International festival, which grows into a celebrated festival providing a stage for international poets every year.

June 1970
Holland Pop Festival is staged in Kralingse Bos in Woodstock style, with bands like Pink Floyd, Santana and The Byrds, and smoking of cannabis allowed at the festival. Culturally it is a great success, but financially it is fiasco, as tens of thousands of people manage to enter the festival grounds without a ticket.

June 1972
First International Film Festival, held in the Calypso theatre founded by Huub Bals (1937-1988).
It became one of the most important film festivals, attracting 280,000 visitors in 2014.

Foundation of Poetry Park, which later changed its name to Ortel Dunya Festival, a performing arts festival featuring world music, storytellers and poets. In 2013 Dunya merged with the Summer Carnival, and the venue for this new event moved from The Park to the city centre.

Rev. Hans Visser is inaugurated as pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church of Rotterdam-Centrum district. His Paulus Church becomes a home for the disadvantaged, and in 1987 he opens Perron Nul shelter, which is closed again in 1994.

Foundation by Cor Kraat, Hans Citroen and Willem van Drunen of artists’ group Kunst & Vaarwerk. Their group is the first to create installation art in public spaces, like the painted tank, the car in the Unilever building, a viewing point on the Maas and the Doric columns.

A group of Rotterdam writers, visual artists and designers launch Hard Werken, a magazine that focuses on art, culture, urban development, theatre and ‘political squabbling’.

Opening of the new Willemsbrug bridge by Queen Beatrix and her son Prince Willem-Alexander, more than a century after the first Willemsbrug was opened.

May 1981
Although there have been previous marathons, this year for the first time the Rotterdam Marathon runs through the city centre. The event is still staged annually and draws thousands of marathon runners and 900, 000 visitors.

Opening of the new Municipal Library designed by Boot of Van den Broek and Bakema architects.

Created by architect Piet Blom, Blaakse Bos (Blaakse Forest, Cube Houses and Pencil Building) was designed to encourage social interaction between residents.

Summer 1984
Start of the Summer Carnival, which began as an Antillean Summer Carnival organised by Marlon Brown. Now dubbed Robin Rotterdam Unlimited, the event is just as popular as before, if not more. In 2014 the festival attracted 625,000 visitors, making it one of the largest outdoor day events in the Netherlands.

De Kop van Zuid zoning plan is drafted. In the course of time, modern port activities were undertaken ever further from the city and old harbours became deserted. The zoning plan provides for living, working and leisure activities.

Launch of the annual music festival Metropolis in Zuiderpark. Musical styles range from rock, metal, indie, world music, hip-hop, punk and electronic to experimental. Metropolis has hosted many bands before their big break.

Celebration of Rotterdam’s 650th anniversary. On 7 June 1340, Count Willem IV officially elevated the status of Rotterdam from town to city.

Opzoomeren, an initiative aimed at improving the position of people with a social disadvantage, is launched by local authorities and organisations, but also the target groups themselves, which is a new concept. Streets in impoverished areas are improved and spruced up to prevent further deterioration.

Opening of De Kunsthal exhibition venue, designed by Rotterdam architect Rem Koolhaas of the internationally acclaimed OMA office.

Gabberhouse outgrows Parkzicht, the cradle of this musical genre with its own record labels like Rotterdam Records and formations as Euromasters. A Rotterdam variation on the original American house music, Gabberhouse is loud and fast and gives rise to a subculture of youths sporting shaved heads and tracksuits. Gabberhouse parties move to larger venues.

The Netherlands Architecture Institute is established in Rotterdam, and is tasked with supporting and managing Dutch architectural history. In 2013 it is incorporated into the New Institute, an arts institute focused on contemporary architecture and design.

13 March 1996
Inauguration of the Koopgoot lower-level shopping street; fashion warehouse C&A is the first establishment to open its doors. The official name of this shopping street is Beurstraverse.

4 September 1996
Queen Beatrix opens the Erasmus Bridge, an iconic bridge for the city and a new connection between the centre and the south of Rotterdam. Designed by architect Ben van Berkel.

Founding of the Gergiev Festival. This classical music event was initiated by Valery Gergiev, who until 2008 was principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

Wednesday Night Skate is initiated by Hans Velthuizen of Rotterdam skate shop RSI. Up till last year, this event has drawn an increasing number of participants, sometimes up to 20,000.

The European Union declares Rotterdam as Cultural Capital of Europe, a title the city applied for in 1994. Motel Mozaïque arts festival, which originated in collaboration with TENT, Rotterdam Schouwburg theatre and Nighttown on the occasion of the Cultural Capital, is established. Every year the festival programme features music, theatre, performances and visual art in venues throughout the city centre.

Opening of the Nieuwe Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam-Zuid on the Wilhelmina Pier, designed by architects Bolles+Wilson.

The start of Rotterdam Museum Night, an event in which various cultural institutions open their doors to the public, attracting no less than 160,000 visitors.

Sjaak and Clara Sies set up the Food Bank in Rotterdam. It is the first in the Netherlands.

Closure of dance club Now & Wow in the Maassilo. Speedfreax, LOLITA and FLIRT were some of the famous parties hosted here.

31 May 2006
Cees Helder, owner of Restaurant Park Hill, is appointed Knight in the Order of Oranje-Nassau.

North Sea Jazz Festival relocates from The Hague to Rotterdam, where it is staged each year in Ahoy.

5 April 2007
Rotterdam is declared City of Architecture 2007, and the plans for Maasvlakte 2, a large land reclamation project in the North Sea, are approved in this year.

15 May 2007
The boundary of the area devastated during the bombing of 1940, the brandgrens, is visualised by 128 spotlights projecting the demarcation line over Rotterdam in the night sky. In 2010 a permanent demarcation line was introduced in the form of illuminated pavement tiles.

September 2007
Hosting of the 30th World Port Days, an annual maritime event that showcases the history and future of the port of Rotterdam. Rotterdam still is the biggest port of Europe.

The prologue and first stage of the Tour de France starts in Rotterdam. In 2015, the Tour will again ride through Rotterdam.

Opening of film theatre/jazz venue LantarenVenster in the building New Orleans in Rotterdam-Zuid on the Wilhelmina Pier, designed by architect Álvaro Siza.

8 February 2012
The pedestrian and cyclist bridge between Katendrecht and Wilhelminapier is opened.

13 March 2014
Opening of the new, iconic Rotterdam Central Station. Architects: Benthem Crouwel Architects, MVSA Meyer & Van Schooten Architects, and West 8.

13 March 2014
Opening of Markthal, designed by MVRDV Architects.

The Van Nelle factory is placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Hosting of the first edition of Rotterdam Pride, a collaboration of the City of Rotterdam, Rotterdam Festivals and gay & and hospitality organisations in Rotterdam.

Autumn of 2015 to June 2016
‘Rotterdam Celebrates the City’ will be staged to celebrate 75 years of Reconstruction.