Rotterdam North Hofbogen Spirit

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Station Bergweg – Hofbogen (dec. 2014) |            High Line NYC (nov. 2014)      |  High Line NYC – tracks (nov. 2014) 

The last greens and the rapidly appearing autumn colors were intertwined with the metal, stones and wood. The robust steel color of the railway started to match the color of the leaves. Nature and man were combined as one. The wooden planks allowed you to view these beautiful sites as they lead you to different places within two and a half kilometers of the man-made wilderness. The signs mention ‘keep it wild, keep on the path’ to let nature continue to grow even with our presence.

The High Line in New York is one of the most astonishing parks that I have ever seen with such a mixture of two opposing features. Usually a decision is made whether either a park or a building is made, while this was a different case for the High Line. In 1980 the elevated train track that ran through the city went out of use and people wanted to tear it down. Instead Joshua David and Robert Hammond now known as the two co-founders of the High Line decided to take a different approach and tried to figure out how to re-use the monument, Joshua (June 9) said, “Let’s think of what else it can be, what else can you do with it?” (Documentary, 2014).

The metal railway was an impressive structure to view from within the city in the past, but also on top wildflowers had grown which made it a beautiful garden. Photographer Joel Sternfield was asked to take photographs so that the rest of New York could see the beauty up in the sky and the reason why it should be preserved. Joel (June 9) said, “And I realized, I would rather be here [on top of the High Line] then any other place in the world” (Documentary, 2014). This is a vision and feeling that they wanted to portray to the rest of New York and in which they succeeded after 15 years of renovating.

In Rotterdam a similar discussion is currently held with the Hofbogen, which also has become an unemployed rail track officially since 2010. In 1909 the railway was built from Rotterdam to the Hague and Scheveningen so that visitors from the city could go take weekend trips to the beach, and people from the Hague could visit the big city. In 1940 during WW2 bombardment the station that connected Rotterdam to the ocean got destroyed (Crimson, 2008). Fifteen years later a new modern station that looked nothing like the old was rebuild, but again demolished for the underground railway that was build in 2010. The 1.9 kilometers of the Hofbogen runs through different areas in the city and dominantly weaves its way through Rotterdam North. Hence why in 2006 it was funded by two housing associations that own many houses in this area and that want to redevelop the railway into something innovative, as this will help the living quality in the neighborhood.

When comparing this with the High Line before it was renovated and titled, the meatpacking district and other neighboring areas in New York were not known as very good places to create a cozy home. Because of the High Line however it became popular and it gave an uplifting boost that it needed. Rotterdam North is becoming a better neighborhood to live, however it also needs this positive lift in the atmosphere to become more popular. Ginny (21) lives in the center and said “Isn’t that more like the Ghetto? Maybe it is a bit better than the south…”. Starting families and an older crowd now mostly live on this side of Rotterdam, but to make Rotterdam more ‘hip and happening’ Hofbogen transformed into a green path is a great solution. Klarien (23) said, “if they create a park on top of the Hofbogen only more entrepreneurs will come to the city and shops and café’s will open up”.

Already renovation has taken place under some of the arches, and they have become studios for artists and other creative entrepreneurs. These arches in the beginning were used by homeless people and for anti-squatting. This therefore did not give a very appealing image to the neighborhood. However now a lively nightclub and a restaurant have settled in underneath the arches. Koen (20) said “I did not know about the plans for Hofbogen, but it would be a great idea and Rotterdam North would become much better known with a positive vibe”.

Imagining a park just five minutes from my house that looks similar to the High Line surrounded with trendy café’s and delicious restaurants would be very appealing. Strolling around through the green above the city does not seem like reality but hopefully it will one day. The Hofbogen will be the green connector from the city center to the North. InNew York it gave people a new perspective on how to gaze at the city and fall in love with it all over again. The same will happen in Rotterdam and open up a whole new neighborhood that can be discovered again.

 

 

Sources: 

Crimson Architectural Historians (2008). Toekomstvisie de Hofbogen: het langste gebouw van Rotterdam. Retrieved from: http://www.crimsonweb.org/

Documentary. (June 9, 2014). Elevated thinking: the High Line in New York City. Retrieved from: http://greatmuseums.org/

Laila_vanBerlo_group_A

Laila_vanBerlo_group_A

I am interested in the creative side of the media.

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