The Oostflank presents opportunities to achieve a significant part of Rotterdam's urbanization challenge, driven by a new high-quality public transportation connection, a city bridge, and the new Stadionpark station. The area is being developed as a collection of pleasant neighbourhoods, each with its own identity, fostering more cohesion and strong centres that are better integrated with and connected to the rest of the city. The Oostflank brings the city together, strengthening the connection between North and South, and between East and the city centre. With a robust package of measures for ‘smart growth’, the focus is on maximising economic, social, and spatial value, moving towards a more sustainable and resilient city.
In the Rotterdam Omgevingsvisie the Oostflank has been designated as the location to realise approximately half of the required housing for the city: 30.000 homes and an equal number of jobs, along with accompanying amenities such as education, community centres, sports facilities, and green spaces. The Oostflank covers a large area that has much to offer residents and visitors, and where a lot is already happening. However, the area also faces significant challenges. Buildings are aging, public spaces and green areas are worn out, social problems are accumulating in certain places, and office locations along the highway have lost their luster. Public transportation hubs are barren and windy. There is a shortage of housing for older adults and first-time buyers. Some neighbourhoods are experiencing pressure on amenities such as shops and schools. Districts need to transition away from gas and be made resilient to the impacts of climate change. Additionally, there are parts of the area that are underutilized, diminishing their significance for the city.
Moreover, there are significant differences between the area north and south of the river. Rotterdam South has already been in the spotlight in recent years due to initiatives such as the National Programme Rotterdam South (NPRZ) and the development of Feyenoord City, but there are still many opportunities to create connecting links. This includes spatial bridging over the barriers of the railway and the busy Stadionweg, as well as socio-economic connections to increase access to employment, education, amenities, and housing for current and new residents. On the other hand, Rotterdam East is essentially absent from the city's "mind map" because the area east of Kralingen and Feyenoord is fragmented. There are various things to be found, but many places have a one-sided and peripheral character: here, you can only live, only work, or only engage in sports. There is room to increase urban density and mix functions. More vibrancy and better connections will integrate the Oostflank more effectively with the rest of the city. Alongside the enhancement of landscape, infrastructure, and amenities, this can increase the value of the area for the rest of the city.
Addressing this challenge requires an integrated approach. In close collaboration with the municipality and our partners LOLA Landscape Architects (landscape and climate) and Goudappel (mobility), we have worked on developing an integrated perspective for the area until 2040 in the form of a Development Vision and Strategy. This development vision aims to improve the daily quality of life for those who reside, work, and live in the Oostflank, as well as prepare the city for the future. Three ambitions guide this vision: Rotterdam as an undivided city, with strong centres and vital neighbourhoods
Densifying in the existing city requires an approach that aligns with what already exists. The Oostflank is an area where many people already live, work, and thrive, forming the foundation for further development. At the same time, strategic interventions are needed that create value for the city and the region, addressing the demands of the future, such as societal change, climate change, and the energy transition.
In this regard, the following principles are crucial for us to add maximum value:
- We build upon the characteristics and DNA of the existing city. The area should not be seen as one district but rather as a collection of vital urban neighbourhoods and strong centres, each complementing the others in their unique traits.
- Development is approached from a dual perspective: what does it yield for the city and what does it yield for the people of Rotterdam?
- The development of the Oostflank is a collection of "package deals" where densification and improved accessibility always go hand in hand with a package of amenities and strategic interventions that have an impact on the city, logically phased over time.
To achieve the aforementioned three ambitions, twelve area choices have been established:
The area choices translate into a package of interventions at both the neighbourhood and city scale. The development framework consists of two main components. A robust spatial framework, including a strengthened and climate-resilient landscape, water management solutions, a balanced mobility system and network, and a sustainable energy strategy, forms the basis for the allocation of programmes such as housing, employment, and amenities. This is achieved through a density and composition of high-quality urban neighbourhoods similar to those found in other parts of the city. A strategy of mixing functions is also necessary to ensure that work and amenities are integrated into the neighbourhoods and blocks.
Housing, in combination with creating employment opportunities and amenities, is the primary focus of these developments. However, more is needed to ensure that the development of the Oostflank benefits the existing neighbourhoods and the city as a whole. To achieve this, a strategic agenda has been developed, consisting of four programmes (social, climate & water, mobility, and energy transition) and eleven projects with city-wide impact. This way, the development of the Oostflank can contribute to the urban and regional green areas and public spaces, the mobility system and network of routes and connections, and the provision of amenities and functions. At the neighbourhood level, this translates into tangible improvements in the daily quality of life for all residents and users. Furthermore, the development is explicitly aimed at contributing to the necessary energy, mobility, and resource transitions in existing neighbourhoods.
The Development Vision and Strategy for the Oostflank consist of four practical handbooks that serve as a framework and guide for future development:
- The Vision includes the ambitions, guidelines, and area choices for the development of the Oostflank.
- The Elaboration outlines the current situation and the existing challenges, prerequisites, and opportunities that serve as the starting point. It further deepens the vision by exploring three system layers: landscape, network, and programme. This translates into the strategic agenda for the Oostflank, comprising programs and projects with city-wide impact.
- The Oostflank consists of seven interconnected Sub-areas, each with a number of area developments, each with its own character, challenges, opportunities, and constraints. This handbook provides an initial framework for the elaboration of the vision for each sub-area, with a specific focus on the strategic interventions.
- The Action Plan contains the development strategy and phasing of area developments and strategic projects, as well as the guiding principles for the subsequent process.
By 2040, the Oostflank has helped bring this part of Rotterdam together. The area acts as a logical puzzle piece between the surrounding districts, making the city more complete. On the streets, you can see the effects of the strategic choices that have been made: the buildings and streets are human-scaled, liveability has been improved, more people have been able to live here despite the changing climate, and the neighbourhoods are "fit" for the future.
New housing has been built in many different locations. Around the Alexanderknoop, Kralingse Zoom, Stadionpark, and Hart van Zuid, you truly live and work in the city, with all the amenities, destinations, and vibrancy that come with it. However, each of these areas has its own distinctive character and offerings. In the new neighbourhoods near de Esch and Boszoom, you can enjoy a quieter living environment, just a stone's throw away from the river and the forest.
To meet the city's housing needs while maintaining a sense of community, neighbourhoods have been developed with an "intense low-rise" approach – achieving urban density, but not excessively so. In existing neighbourhoods, more suitable homes have also been added for people of all ages, household sizes, and income groups. As a student, you can find educational institutions nearby, from primary school to vocational schools, universities, and colleges. There are work opportunities throughout the neighbourhoods, ranging from entrepreneurship and production work to office-based and knowledge-intensive services. This includes a concentration of offices at key locations, work buildings scattered throughout the neighbourhoods, and a few clustered business parks.
All neighbourhoods are intimate districts that provide spaces for social interactions, with facilities for inspiration, relaxation, and support. Health, inspiration, and relaxation are given priority, with stimulating, accelerating, and decelerating spaces for learning, working, and creating. The public spaces invite movement with cycling and walking routes and water features for recreation. The neighbourhoods have also received an impetus for energy transition and climate adaptation. Buildings are well-insulated, transitioning away from gas, and energy is sourced from sustainable sources. New construction and renovation projects prioritize circular resource flows. Greenery and water have been added to allow for the drainage of heavy rainfall, mitigate heat in hot summers, and provide more space for flora and fauna in the city.
Getting from point A to point B in the oostflank is easy. The various areas and destinations are well connected through a clear and recognizable network of public spaces and public domains, featuring pleasant streets, squares, and green spaces. With the city bridge, fast tram, and the new station at Stadionpark, you can quickly commute to work in one of the urban centres, the downtown area, or elsewhere in the region. The cycling and walking network has been expanded and made (socially) safer, with a greener character, more destinations, and increased activity and lighting along the routes. Regional green areas and landscapes, such as the Maas and Rotte rivers, Kralingse Bos, Schollebos, and Zuiderpark, are connected through strong green corridors, and the new river park is accessible to everyone from the existing neighbourhoods. This strengthens the presence of green spaces in the city, allowing residents to bike through nature from their neighbourhoods to the beautiful outskirts of Rotterdam.
The Design Development Vision and Strategy for the Oostflank is currently open for public consultation, and there is an opportunity to submit opinions. The development vision will be officially adopted by the municipal council in the autumn of 2023.
Want to know more?
The complete Development Vision in four parts can be accessed on the website of the Municipality of Rotterdam (see the links above).
If you would like more in-depth information and background, please contact Rozemarijn Stam via email@example.com.