To the creators of the new station in Rotterdam: an appeal for help

This post has two purposes: to thank everyone who created this wonderful station, and to appeal for their help in stopping the initiatives to place hideous sculptures (Kissing Earth) on the station square. Placement of these sculptures will destroy our enjoyment of both the public life this square enables and of the beauty of the station.

Part 1: Why I love the new station

Rotterdam Central Station.

Rotterdam Central Station – “Rtd CS-III” by Jan Oosterhuis. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rtd_CS-III.JPG#/media/File:Rtd_CS-III.JPG.

The new Rotterdam Central Station – created by the cooperative efforts of Benthem Crouwel Architects, MVSA Meyer & Van Schooten Architects, and West 8 – has improved the lives of thousands of residents and commuters, including myself. This large and yet remarkably transparent building is technically a marvel, enabling thousands of people to flow without stress or disorientation. It is a design that accommodates newcomers to this global harbor city – its distinctive form is unique and memorable, and even from outside, one can see straight through to the trains. Everything is findable.

The quality of the materials – the stone floor, wood cladding and especially the irregularities in the bright metal covering of the exterior, give it an almost handmade feel. And the ‘coolness’ – the subdued tones – was probably a wise choice, considering that a station of this size can otherwise quickly become overwhelming. It has a beautiful cafe (the ‘living room’ full of vintage furnishings) which offers that second essential quality of a station: refuge from the flow.

The overall shape of the facade connects to the surrounding buildings in way that makes this piece of skyline feel more coherent. And it is not an arbitrary form: to me it seems to embody the speed and the extreme linear perspective we experience with when trains pass us. The integration of the old lettering and clock, and other components of the former station, is very welcome in a city in which Nazi bombers destroyed so much of what connects us to the past.

Part 2: Help get rid of these horrid balls!

Two giant globes on a square.

Sculptures proposed for Rotterdam Central Station square.

As I write this, I’m looking in horror at a proposal for two giant, garish, banal sculptures which would totally ruin the station square in front of the facade. What’s at stake here is more than a detail – it’s the whole experience. That square is one of the few inspiring, humane spaces Rotterdam has, and it’s a stage for public life like no other – a genuinely social space! This is important in a city where public life has struggled to re-emerge after the destruction of WWII.

Those sculptures are about as appropriate as a floor-to-ceiling beach ball crammed into your living room. They block the sightlines in this open space and get in the way of every kind of enjoyment of the square and the station. And – it must be said – WHAT STUPID, BORING SCULPTURES THEY ARE! The globe, stylized ?! Granted, this is a prototype – the final design is more subtle, but every bit as banal. The artist has attempted to make up for an impoverished concept by blowing it up to inhumane proportions – basically shouting in our faces.

HELP! I don’t know if it’s possible or desirable, but perhaps as the station’s creators, you can lend your voices to protest these monstrosities! Help us if you can. It would be a terrible shame if we could no longer experience the magic of the new station in full.

A petition can be found at: http://petities.nl/petitie/stationsplein-rotterdam-centraal

One Response to “To the creators of the new station in Rotterdam: an appeal for help”

  1. Jantien says:

    Well put Jim. Ik vind de ballen een blamage en geen bal aan. Het station is prachtig zoals het is, met al zijn lijnen, de punt, vorm, details en materialen. Laat het heel!

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