Rotterdam is a patchwork of architectural styles. The bombing in World War II and the following reconstruction played a major role in the city’s architecture, as is reflected in the eclectic mix of old and new buildings. Architecture lovers are guaranteed to have a good time in Rotterdam. From historic churches to cutting-edge skyscrapers, local Facebook groups have listed the architectural must-sees. Whether you are exploring by yourself or joining one of the architecture tours, make sure you keep an eye out for their recommendations.
On Wijnhaveneiland you will find the Red Apple with its characteristic bright red façade lines. The Red Apple was designed by the Dutch KCAP Architects & Planners and well-known Dutch architect Jan des Bouvrie. A special feature of the design of the building, extending 124 metres up, is the red staggered aluminum façade.
The new Rotterdam Central Station opened in 2014 and is located in the Weena area. The train station processes an average of 170,000 travellers every day. The retro letters on the façade are a replica of the signage of the old station building.
Next to the train station, you will spot the 151 metre high Delftse Poort, the tallest building in the Netherlands from 1991 to 2005. The Delftse Poort was designed by architect Abe Bonnema. The building is named after the last city gate of Rotterdam.
The iconic cube houses can be found in the Blaak area. Near the Oude Haven, you will find 38 cube-shaped dwellings and 13 business cubes. These photogenic ‘boxes’ were built between 1982 and 1984 after a design by Piet Blom.
Just around the corner you can spot the Witte Huis. This beautiful national monument was one of the few buildings in the city center to survive the bombing of Rotterdam in 1940, during World War II. In the 90s it was restored to its original state.
Just a stone’s throw away is the Markthal, designed by architectural firm MVRDV. The impressive gray natural stone building, shaped like a horseshoe, has glass façades on both sides. In the Markthal you will find cafés and market stalls selling a range of delicacies. And don’t forget to look up: the ceiling of the Markthal is adorned with a 11,000 square metre work of art – the size of two football fields – by Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam, titled ‘Hoorn des Overvloeds’.
Kop van Zuid
The Kop van Zuid has a number of architectural gems. Such as De Rotterdam on the Wilhelminapier, designed by Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture. The impressive building consists of three interconnected towers on a joint base consisting of six floors, with a height of thirty metres.
The Maastoren was designed by Dam & Partners Architects and architecture firm Odile Decq Benoit Cornette. The skyscraper consists of two main parts: one towering at a height of 165 metres and a second part with a slight angle and a height of about 105 metres.
Of course you also can’t miss the iconic Erasmus bridge, designed by Ben van Berkel (UNStudio) and completed in 1996. The 284 metre long bridge is nicknamed ‘The Swan’. Bet you can see why.
The characteristic Wereldmuseum is situated on the other side of the modern Erasmus bridge. The building dates from 1851 and was opened in 1852 by King Willem II. The building, now a museum, also serves as a cultural meeting place with its very own media library, shop, restaurant and wine bar.
Many of Rotterdam’s oldest buildings can be found in Historisch Delfshaven. Located on the water, it feels like a small village within the city where you take a step back in time. In the historic canal houses you will find antique shops, artists’ studios and traditional Dutch gin cafés.
Head east from Delfshaven to visit the Euromast – one of the older classics with fantastic views over the city.
The Van Nellefabriek is located on the Delfshaven Schie. Until well into the 90s, the factory produced tobacco. The complex was renovated and refurbished in 2000 and is now home to companies in the creative industry. The impressive old factory is the most important industrial monument in the Netherlands and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014.
Rotterdam offers a canvas of interesting old and modern architecture, inspiring us during our monthly sketch crawls. We share our artworks and feedback online in our Facebook group, as well as offline. Sketch after sketch – this is how even friendships sprouted from our community.Jeffrey de Bruin
Urban Sketchers Rotterdam