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Sustainable Rotterdam

The city is re-inventing itself

Zomer Carnaval 06

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Check the foto slideshow
feat. JC Diehl, thanks!

Once a year, Rotterdam becomes a truly multiethnic party. Yesterday the centre was packed with faders, color, rhythm, food, drinks, sun, smiles and lots of body shaking; it was the celebration of Zomer Carnaval, where South American and Caribbean inhabitants from the city and all over the country show their best outfits and haircuts for the sake of joy. It's a time to see and be seen where some love to exhibit and others take a voyeuristic role admiring and criticizing the show (almost everyone is a show in itself). It is the greatest demonstration of Rotterdam cosmopolitan spirit. However, we are disappointed with one aspect related to organization of the event: waste

Big events like Zomer Carnaval are a good opportunity to engage citizens to respect and make proper use of the public space; that is why we were surprised that littering was openly promoted. No extra waste bins were placed along the parade route, neither near by the concerts area which rapidly converted the pavement into a carpet of plastic bottles, cans, food packaging and leftovers. I agree that the logistics and organizational aspects of such event are complex and require substantial effort from municipality agents and sponsors (btw, branding largely dominates the event), and some may argue tha it is more cost-effective to entirely wipe out the streets after once the party is over than collecting provisional bins. However, in a day that everyone is invited to enjoy the city, the message sent was "It is ok to litter, someone else will come after to clean up". How many people took the message home and will apply it in the future? Does it make sense to apply fines all year long for improper use of waste systems when during a massive celebration like Zomer Carnaval you tell the opposite?

Benefits of Temporary Bin System in Events
  • Overall reduction of littering
  • Improve experience of the event
  • Less intensive & more efficient after-event clean up
  • Waste stream separation: glass, plastic, paper+organic
  • Overall reduction of injuries (broken glass + summer shoe = it hurts)
  • Improved overall image: city, municipality, citizens, visitors
  • Branding oportunity. Sponsors: 1 - Rotterdam: 0
  • Preaching by giving example
Similarly, few months ago the municipality launched a campaign promoting respectful attitudes towards the common space. Amongst the messages in form of posters, it was this one picturing a dog excrement with the text "Thanks Ms. Smith". We wonder how trustful the municipality is when it is easy for anyone to step at immense excrements from police horses along pedestrian areas like the Lijnbaan.

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posted by Oriol P., 5:04 PM | link | 2 comments |

Public space and personallity

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A visit to someone's hometown is always a healing experience. I was back to Barcelona for few days of holiday and during a relax evening around Barceloneta and Port Olimpic, two observations called my attention.

Barcelona is a great city where one has the feeling that everything is possible, citizens and visitors exploite the public domain creatively in all sorts of social expressions (local celebrations like Fiestas de Gracia, urban art, skater demonstrations, or simply gathering with friends around some drinks at the street). Since the line between making a "proper use" of public space and abusing and making it unworkable is very fragile, the municipality released an ordinance calling for a civic use of public space. The overall strategy includes a communication campaign targeting users of public space very creatively, like the one pictured above. The beach "talks" to citizens asking them to use it responsible. The comic-alike balloons read "I'm a beach, not a huge ashtray, ok?" and "Walking in the sand is healthy. Get fit; walk over to the trash cans" (click image to enlarge). With this initiative, public areas gain some sort of personality which may translate in more respectful use.

A similar initiative was observed in Sitges (no pictures available). From a range of messages dealing with different "un-civic" attitudes (misuse of waste system, dog poo, or graffiti at the white walls which characterizes the village), called out attention the one about walking around with bare chest and trunks. Picturing a guy in such fashion, the sentence read "This is not Sitges fashion". Funny.

posted by Oriol P., 2:05 PM | link | 0 comments |

Dinner followed the walk at the beach where we spotted the above post. The place was Bestial, from gastronomic Grupo Tragaluz which owns ten restaurants and catering services in Barcelona. A great experience from a context and content perspective (superb cold tomato soup with fresh cheese ice cream, and semi-raw tuna on thin pizza-like pastry). In addition of "feeling good" due to the dinner and atmosphere, the restaurant offers the opportunity to support their foundation. A little card was placed at our table mentioning the projects in which the foundation is currently involved and informing that 1 euro from the total bill would be used to finance such projects. In case you don't agree with the deal, just mention it to your waiter and the transaction won't take place.

Fundacion Tragaluz Ninos del Mundo provides infrastructures for child education and health support in developing economies. Current projects take place in Ghana, Nepal, and Kenya. Who's unwilling to support such initiative when the night is so magic?

posted by Oriol P., 1:58 PM | link | 0 comments |

Indoor Market: Markthal

Sunday, July 09, 2006

We claim that "Rotterdam is re-inventing itself", and it shows by numerous transformations which bring new services and system organization to the urban scene. We believe that interventions in the form of iconic structures re-enforce the identity of the city. It is already happening at the Centraal Station, and it will certainly happen with the upcoming Markthal.

Markthal is the future indoor market of Rotterdam, located next to Blaak and which will open its doors by the end of 2009. Meanwhile market tradition in Netherlands is based in temporary settlements with weekly schedule (Tuesday & Saturday for Blaak market) permanent indoor markets can be found all around the world. Barcelona's Boqueria, Tokyo's Tjukiji, or Budapest Central Market, act as social hubs re-enforcing the character of city's inhabitants thanks to the numerous interactions happening there.

For Rotterdam Markthal, architect studio MVRDV has planned a multifunctional concept bringing together an indoor market, underground supermarket & parking, and housing at the sides. Little is known about the project; however you can download a pdf presentation.

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posted by Oriol P., 1:16 PM | link | 5 comments |

Pixel Rotterdam

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Rotterdam by pixel artist Panc. View full panorama here

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posted by Oriol P., 12:47 PM | link | 0 comments |

Ten Most Dynamic Cities

Friday, July 07, 2006

10 Most Dynamic Cities
Source: Newsweek

Las Vegas (US)
Fukuoka (Japan)
Munich (Germany)
London (UK)
Toulouse (France)
Nanchang (China)
Moscow (Russia)
Ghaziabad (India)
Goyang (South Korea)
Florianopolis (Brazil)

With a relative delay, we inform you about a special issue from Newsweek Magazine on cities. Here we highlight a list of the 10 most dynamic cities according to the magazine. If you cannot find the issue at your local kiosk, check the online version which includes a good selection of articles (13) covering the unprecedented movement of people from rural areas to cities, urban development in china, or the transformation of Valencia (ES). If you are into R. Florida's ideas, check his article; The New Megapolis.

Via Vanderpluijm Blog

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posted by Oriol P., 8:18 PM | link | 0 comments |

Branding the Urban Landscape

From MIT Branding the Urban Landscape forum:

"As brands compete for attention in an environment saturated with advertising, some companies are taking to the streets, placing ads in unlikely and attention-grabbing locations, deploying mobile technologies to annotate the urban landscape, aiming to create marketing that doesn't look or feel like advertising. At the same time, activist groups are exploiting the same technologies to deliver their own messages about city life. How effective are these alternative approaches to branding? How are city-dwellers responding to the transformation of their neighborhoods into branded environments? What forms of branding and marketing will shape urban life in the future?"

Listen the audio recording (ram) with guest peakers Jon Cropper, Thomas V. Ryan, Jesse Shapins, and Henry Jenkins.

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posted by Oriol P., 7:58 PM | link | 0 comments |

Lost & Found

Studio Hergebruik is a collective of artist and designers with a special interest to material re-use with a gallery-shop in Rotterdam's Coolsingel. Lately, the Studio suffered an significant enlargement of space which has been filled with the exhibition Lost & Found, where 20 designers showcase their work around re-sue of materials in product design and fashion. Make sure you visit the expo before end of August.

Studio Hergebruik
Coolsingel 53
3012AA Rotterdam

Fotoalbum opening

posted by Oriol P., 12:48 PM | link | 0 comments |

Club Double Dee update

We know how much expectation club Double Dee creates: everyone looks forward to get more news about the concept. However we write this post to announce that the presentation planned for tonight (read our previous post) has been postponed to October 7th. We'll keep you updated.


posted by Oriol P., 12:33 PM | link | 0 comments |

Homeless blogs

Saturday, July 01, 2006

"Living in a squalid, Woodstock-style bus parked in a Fillmore, California, orange grove, the 53-year-old homeless man charges a power generator from a utility shed and uses Wi-Fi from a nearby access point. From this humble camp, he's managed to run a 'round-the-clock internet television studio, organize grassroots political efforts, record a full-length album and write his autobiography, all while subsisting on oranges and avocados". Wired magazine features an article about the impact of new technologies in the life of homeless, worth to check it out.

The article mentions some blogs written by homeless

Project Hello "gives homeless individuals names and put the growing homeless issue in the face of the public and politicians, more than 5,000 Hello My Name Is... signs are being distributed around the world to those living on the streets" Check the pictures & videos at the site.

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posted by Oriol P., 1:51 PM | link | 0 comments |