Zuidplein (South Square)

Zuidplein (South Square)

“The city is like a monster, but you can tame it. To make it more lively, emphasize a part and suggest a strength. Create excitement end celebrate the unpredictable, or as the Chinese say: one can see the head of the divine dragon, but not the tail.”
Ai Weiwei

In October 2009, the book ‘Op Zuid’ was published by NAi Uitgevers. It was an initiative of the Rotterdam Centre for the Visual Arts in cooperation with Pact op Zuid.

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For some years now, Sculpture International has been examining the possible functions that art may have on Zuidplein. The Art and Culture Programme of the Pact op Zuid organisation was presented on 25 March 2008. SIR was asked to specifically focus on Zuidplein. In October 2009, the book ‘Op Zuid’ was published by NAi Uitgevers. In this publication, SIR also gave a detailed description of its plans for Zuidplein. You can find more information about the publication on the NAi Uitgevers website.

At the request of Pact op Zuid and the Boroughs of Charlois and Feijenoord, Sculpture International Rotterdam (SIR) developed a plan for an art programme at Zuidplein to start in summer 2009 and run until the square had attained its final form.

The international heritage – the city’s ‘crown jewels’ that are managed and developed by SIR – can mainly be found in the city centre. By inviting SIR to draw up a proposal for the future Hart van Zuid (heart of Rotterdam South), the principal (the City) indicates the ambitious standard that it envisages for the Hart van Zuid and specifically for Zuidplein – a site that has the potential to be dynamic and internationally attractive.

Four stages of redevelopment
The radical redevelopment of Zuidplein can be divided into four stages: the preparation (research and design by the urban planning experts), the demolition phase, the construction phase and the final appearance. In this context, the challenge is to initiate a coordinated range of art projects devoted to the various layers of meaning that Zuidplein has during the four phases.

The intention is not to keep the art at a distance, but to allow it to function very directly – a refreshing, temporary intervention in the Hart van Zuid. Using fairly simple art resources, the first phase involves focusing on Zuidplein and what the square could become. The artwork is intended to stimulate the imagination of all those involved, challenging them to think and dream about what ZUIDPLEIN could become.

Phase one resulted in a number of ideas, emanating from artists, that can endow Zuidplein with a dynamic and imaginative face. This publication presents the first, pristine suggestions from Ai Weiwei (Beijing), Erik van Lieshout (Rotterdam), Hendrik-Jan Hunneman (Rotterdam) and Ken Lum (Vancouver).

Viewed from the air, Zuidplein hardly meets one’s expectations of a square. The area referred to by this name is almost completely occupied by a huge shopping mall and a parking garage. The remaining space is taken up by a bus station, traffic flows and above all by the imposing bus lane, down which buses drive at high speed from the metro station, weaving adroitly among the pedestrians as the latter leap out of the way. A fascinating sight, perhaps, from the terrace of Café-restaurant Champs Elysée, but completely unacceptable in terms of liveable public space.

Despite that, Zuidplein is a treasure chest of possibilities for an interesting public domain, not least because of the hugely diverse population that lives there. The busy shopping centre, the popular Theater Zuidplein and the well run swimming bath also form part of Zuidplein’s slumbering potential. And just a stone’s throw away is the bustling Ahoy event centre. This has an immense empty space with vast potential in front of it. Behind it lies a park with public gardens, a boat lake, a sports area, a playground, a restaurant and an events area. Hopefully, Ahoy itself may undergo an exciting redevelopment in the future.

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The Sleeping Beauty (Work in progress)




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