Rotterdam, Netherlands: Where the eye goes post modern.

What does a city do when a crazy guy called Hitler bombards it to ashes? Why, it turns post-modern!!!

Rotterdam. It’s a beautiful city; it is post-modern, and no, I am not making a sweeping statement here. Since Hitler’s bombardment in the 1940s, the city has stopped following any architectural axioms. Challenging the existing rules, questioning the axioms, and erecting contrasting buildings with even more contrasting elements hitting right in your face is what post modernism is about. Things don’t go haywire. Thoughts do.
Let’s see if my lens is able to show you what I felt like while walking in Rotterdam:
 Mind the different types of buildings, standing next to each other in full glory. Mind the different types of buildings, standing next to each other in full glory.


Exposed brick over exposed concrete. Reminds me of Kahn and his brick-periments.
Exposed brick over exposed concrete. Reminds me of Kahn and his brick-periments in India and Bangladesh.

Respect, after all, is also an axiom. A bright orange building standing right in front of the old City hall which survived Hitler’s bombs. I sometimes wonder whether post-modernism is also about not respecting things that happened before us.
Respect, after all, is also an axiom.

That weird structure is a metro station. In your face, Hitler! That weird structure is a metro station. In your face, Hitler!

Yellow.
Just when things started getting uglier and crazier, a wild Doner Kebab shop from Istanbul appeared! Not did it only add craziness to the chaos around, but also gave us something to chew along.
In case you did notice those yellow cube-buildings in the back, well yes, we did get into one of them. They looked like a bunch of kites from the outside.
Trust me, they look even more weird once you get inside.
The Kubuswoningen, or the ‘Cube-houses’ for the lesser mortals. This bunch of residential experiment is like an icing on this whole post-modernism Juggernaut of a city. An otherwise unpopular structuralist architect, Piet Blom designed these houses on the concept of ‘Living as an Urban roof’ (Well, at least that’s what was written in the information poster there!)
The thoughts traversed boundaries. The idea was to create a forest, a village for the people within a city. The 45 degree tilted cubes mounted on the top of these buildings represent trees, and all the houses together form a Jungle.
Oh how very romantic! I don’t know. Jungle was the last thing that came in my mind after seeing these yellow cubes with a pencil shaped building in the background. All I could think about was the sharpness of the spaces.
From the inside, things looked strange, but comfortable. I could reside in such buildings. But not forever. No! Have a look at the interiors:
The Bedroom, if I may call it so.
I like the shadows.
Well, the attic was good!





















I left the cube houses  and the pencil shaped building in all their glory beneath the blue sky. They were hitting my mind pretty hard. It was time to roam around aimlessly in the city, with a camera hanging from the waist.
What does one do then? Why, click photographs of anything interesting that comes in the way!!!
One last look at the cubes! One last look at the cubes!

Yeah. That’s pretty bright and loud for a sunny afternoon street stroll. Yeah. That’s pretty bright and loud for a sunny afternoon street stroll.

This whole ambiance was balanced in a strange sort of way. Accidental or deliberate, no idea! This whole ambiance was balanced in a strange sort of way. Accidental or deliberate, no idea!

The sky was falling. I so knew it was! This stone man saved our day. Thanks Mr. Stone man!!! The sky was falling. I so knew it was! This stone man saved our day. Thanks Mr. Stone man!!!

I seriously have no idea what barrels full of oil are doing on a street in Amsterdam. It reminded me of Dubai and Qatar, by the way! I seriously have no idea what these barrels full of oil are doing on a street in Rotterdam. They reminded me of Dubai and Qatar, for obvious reasons.
After a couple of hours strolling in the sun, I felt a bit disoriented. What makes a place different? Is it the people, the places or is it the thoughts they all evoke in one’s mind? Rotterdam is a beautiful city to explore, before you move ahead to Amsterdam. At times you need to check your own axioms and re-calibrate your own compass. It’s a great city to start thinking about something new and crazy.
Alok K.
Sept. 23rd 2012
***
P.S. Here’s a beautiful picture of a two-sided woman greeting from a trapezoid wall. Can you see that cock on top of the woman’s mind? In retrospect, it looks like a pointer to our journey ahead, to Amsterdam: the sex and weed capital of the world, where I was to find all the weird and explicit paintings and sculptures in the sex museums among other ‘stuff’. But that’s a different story altogether! ;)
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Epilogue: Thanks to my exchange study in a random chill college of France, I have been roaming around in various cities (and countries) a lot lately. My latest trip saw me walking down the plazas and the squares of Luxembourg, Monaco, Bruges, Brussels, Nice, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. All these cities are beautiful (well almost; for Brussels sucks!) and much has been written about the various cities, how to get there, what to see, where to shop and stuff.
My plan is to write on aS travel about the things that strike  me while roaming around in the European streets, the thoughts that these stone pavements evoke and the thought train that follows.

2 Comments:

Mohi said...

Oh. My. God. It is the most beautiful travel post on aS till date. Without fail! Rotterdam, on my wish list now!

Mayank Choudhary said...

Must have been a great experience! Such interesting buildings!