Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rotterdam: Erasmus Brug, Toren Op Zuid, Montevideo

Yes, you are reading correctly, Montevideo (hence the huge M on top)!!! The building on the far right is called that, even though Uruguay is far away from here. In the old days, lots of warehouses were situated here, one of them called Montevideo, as the trade with South America was important. Designed by Francine Houben of Mecanoo Architecten, it is the 3rd tallest skyscraper and tallest residential tower of Rotterdam: The building is 140m/458f (with the M on top the height is even 152m/500f), has 43 stories and was completed in 2005. The M isn't included in the official height, since it's not part of the architectural design, it was added later. If it were to be counted, it would make it the tallest building of The Netherlands.

If you enlarge the picture, you can barely see on the very far right, a small building with a greenish tower on top, right behind Montevideo. That used to be the headquarters of the Holland-America Line. Since 1993, this building is occupied by Hotel New York and is one of the biggest attractions of the city as it is one of the few old buildings left within Rotterdam.

On to the building on the left. Much more architecturally interesting than Montevideo, this is the Toren op Zuid (Tower on South). Designed by Renzo Piano, built for KPN, the Dutch Telecommunications Company, it was named so because it is situated on the south bank of the river Maas. It has 23 floors and it is 96m high. Construction was completed in 2000. The cantilevered effect (purely aesthetical) is fascinating, it seems as if the building is actually supported by that pillar. Actually, that side of the building can be transofrmed into a huge screen, the biggest in Europe at 80X40m. You can see it playing here if you enlarge the photo.

On the far left, the famous Erasmus Bridge. It is a cable stayed bridge across the river Maas, designed by Ben Van Berkel and built in 1996. The 808 metre long bridge has a 139 metre-high asymmetrical pylon, earning the bridge its nickname of "The Swan". he southern span of the bridge has a 89 metre long bascule bridge for ships that cannot pass under the bridge. The bascule bridge is the largest and heaviest in West Europe and has the largest panel of its type in the world. Shortly after the bridge opened to traffic in October 1996, it was discovered that it would swing under particularly strong wind conditions. To reduce the swing, stronger shock dampeners were installed. I did not feel anything that day and it was too windy, but I only got a third of the way across - I could hardly walk on the bridge because of the gusts of wind and I did not have enough time.

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