The historic centre of Schiedam is centrally located within the Rotterdam metropolitan area. It boasts an urban structure and a large number of buildings of great historical significance. Although not always apparent, many of the old urban spaces and buildings are of a very high quality. Currently these spaces and buildings are many times obscured by infrastructure, utilities and commercial signage but the real thing is still there, it just needs to be uncovered. Revealing the historical qualities of Schiedam will help to establish a stronger identity with a quality that will not only be significant for Schiedam but for the whole Rotterdam metropolitan area.
Schiedam - what remained the same over the centuries
When analysing time and rhythm in a city it is very important to see history, see how things changed and see what has been constant.
One thing which is very evident when looking at historical plans of Schiedam is how little the layout of the main streets and canals has changed over the centuries. This cultural heritage is currently under-appreciated and badly used. Distilling the essence of the historical urban context and using what is valuable to establish a recognisable space can create a common identity for Schiedam.
The local economy of the city centre of Schiedam is for a large part relying on shopping. Traditional shopping is changing dramatically. Access to the internet and the products on offer mean that “just another place to get stuff” will slowly disappear. That does not mean that there is no need for shops, but a shop will need to justify the effort for people to get out of the house. The high street will have to change: big discounter stores or stores belonging to a chain where the products sold are the same in every single city will find more and more competition from the internet.
Shops will have to fulfill the purpose of a destination. We see the start of this happening all over Europe: Paris finds that specialist bakeries selling traditionally baked bread have long line-ups in the weekends. London sees specialists bike shops with skilled bicycle repair men and bike fanatics pushing out big discounter stores with the quality of service and atmosphere they offer. There is a need to interact with a sales person but only for something that really matters. Shopping centres will slowly turn into meeting places again instead of places to “just get stuff”.
Transformation of the Koemarkt starts with the introduction of first one and then two pavilions that provide space for a number of services to move into. These services are now scattered over the whole site giving a very disorganised and confusing appearance to the square. Grouping them together will provide space for further development.
All utilities like garbage handling and street lighting will be moved from the centre of the square to provide a better view over the square and to create a clearly defined space. This newly created empty space allows for flexibility: The square can now be used for markets, festivals and concerts. The pavilions will help defining the northern edge of the square. The last step will introduce paving and street furniture to create a better connection between Buitenhaven and Hoogstraat. This will help to emphasize the relation of the surrounding buildings with the square and the square with the Schie.
On the South of the square the paving will step down from the Koemarkt bridge level to the level of the old Koemarkt and than down to the Schie. This will help the visual connection to the water from the centre of the square.
Currently hotel Kroon seems to have lost any relation to surrounding buildings or urban space. The only structure it relates to is the Koemarkt bridge. A rectangular inset in the paving along the Schie will give a better definition to the space that was the original Koemarkt. The rectangular inset will be in line with the boulevard paving along the west side of the square and share a symmetry axis with hotel Kroon. This will give hotel Kroon a prominent position on the square.
Hotel Kroon will form the connection between the square and a new development east of the Koemarkt: The VROM site.
The transformation of the VROM site starts with a new frontage towards the Schie, making a representative entrance to the site and screening a temporary arrangement of buildings and a large number of parking places behind. Parking and temporary buildings will start generating income which can be used for the next phase.
The next step is a transition phase. Some of the temporary business units will disappear and the number of parking places will be reduced. The introduction of a limited number of apartments creates the possibility for a combination of living and working.
In the following phase all temporary structures will disappear creating space for a more permanent business setup and a large number of apartments. All parking is moved to the back of the site taking full advantage of the views towards the Schie.
The VROM site is located next to the Schie at a point where the river changes direction. This allows for long views over the river, especially towards the South where the river straightens out.
At the end of this view is the Nolet windmill. We used this quality view as the starting point of our design. All housing sits on top of a one storey podium of business units. The building mass of the residential buildings is shaped to optimise the views over the river.
Four residential “fingers” optimise the long view over the Schie towards the Nolet windmill. On a higher level the building mass is broken up further to create views in both directions over the river.
The Koemarkt is about 3 metres higher than the VROM site. This allows for a connection at podium level to the shops in the existing building along the Rotterdamsedijk. At a later date modifications to the existing building could allow views from the main square to the windmill.