The biggest inner-city demolition and construction site in the Netherlands. That's how the daily newspaper Rotterdams Dagblad described the plan to transform New Crooswijk. Built in the late 19th and early 20th century, it's a district of narrow streets lined by small and often poorly maintained social housing units. Nieuw Crooswijk also has two beautiful cemeteries and is strategically located between the city centre and the district of Kralingen with its neighbouring parkland. The poor condition of the housing stock in the district is one of the main reasons to level all but four blocks. Demolition will start at the end of this year, and the contours of the New New Crooswijk should be visible by 2006. Redevelopment will take about 15 years to complete.

 

Last week the 'concept urban master plan' was presented. The prime objective of the design is to stop middle-class residents relocating from Rotterdam to elsewhere. The new residential blocks will contain owner-occupied dwellings in the medium and high price categories. In addition, 450 dwellings in the subsidised rental category will be built. The design also provides for quality public space, plenty of play areas for children, access to all houses directly from the street, and few cars on the street. Inner courtyards will contain playgrounds for small children, while broad streets will provide play areas for older children.

The street pattern will also change drastically. 'The River Rotte flows by Crooswijk without anyone noticing it,' observes Adriaan Geuze (West 8) in the Rotterdams Dagblad. The streets in the new plan are therefore oriented more towards the water, and a new square will be built along the quay where Crooswijksebocht meets Linker Rottekade.

It will be interesting to see how the plan emerges from the round of public consultations currently underway. A leafy New Crooswijk - who could possibly object to that?