There are some places you would not expect to see in a country like Holland. Skyscrapers and modern buildings are probably what visitors would expect to see the least. Just a bunch of endless canals, with pretty bridges that romantically lit up at night and bicycles everywhere. But there are a few places in this country which do not represent the stereotype (almost) at all. Rotterdam is the first place to mention when thinking of this “other Holland”. Apart from people describing it as the ugliest city in the Netherlands because of it’s lack of Amsterdam-like houses and canals, it has a few interesting places and it is a very lively city at night (especially if compared to where I live, Utrecht). I went there for a night out after the bike trip to The Hague in early September. That is definitely a day I will never forget!
Apart from that time when I experienced more the nightlife than anything else, me and my Europe in the World class visited the city for a field-trip for one of our modules. Our professors brought us to the Dutch Environmental centre where Europe’s biggest green rooftop is located. They grow their own vegetables and, financed by people and private companies (not the government), they bring on their work of making green rooftops more popular around the country.
We also visited a very wealthy area of the city just made up of skyscrapers. Clearly an attempt to bring a taste of North American cities to northern Europe.
But the most interesting place we visited was Rotterdam’s new Market Hall: a massive arch-like building with it’s interior roof covered with an artwork of giant vegetables. A Guardian journalist describes it as a “Sistine Chapel of fresh produce”.
Inside you can find the massive quite upscale market (not that it is that expensive, but it isn’t the typical street market with people shouting all over the place, if you get what I mean) and “inside” the upper arch is an apartment block of over 200 flats.
To anyone in Rotterdam for vacation, this place is worth a visit for sure, whether you like contemporary architecture or not.
I personally found it very nice and interesting.
Another Dutch city I have recently visited is Eindhoven, as Design Week was held there last week. Although I am not that passionate of architecture and design, I am still rather interested in them. The exhibitions in Eindhoven were amazing. Set up in the former Philips factory (yes, it is a Dutch company), Design week featured a large number of ideas, both from students of the renowned DEA (Design academy of Eindhoven) and from long-established famous designers from all over the world.
A very interesting one was conceived by an italian student at the academy and was called “Italia 2023”. It featured a set of posters and a fake news programme of an imagined Italy in 2023, a place where students from all over the world would move to build their future, where the government invests in young people, helps north african refugees properly integrate and settle in the country and make Italy one of the dynamic social hubs of Europe. This extremely positive and ideal vision was created in contrast with Italy’s current social and political situation. In 2013 the number of Italians moving abroad (mostly to London) grew 71% (yes, that is correct) compared to the year before. Being an italian abroad for the same reason thousands of other people like me have “fled” the country’s high unemployment rates and drastic political situation, I found this student’s idea of imagining an ideal “Italy of the future” very appealing.
Now november is here, exams are over and a few trips are coming up. Most excitingly Krakow, Poland, in exactly one month!
Have a good week!