Creative atmosphere around Rotterdam Central Station

A backwater in Rotterdam – doesn’t sound very attractive, does it? Most people would probably think of the Central District of Rotterdam as a grey worn out area without any energy or life. But the Central District has gone through tremendous change and is now one of the most lively places in Rotterdam.

By Natalija Sako & Ariane De Wildeman

Unused office space

In this city of huge skyscrapers and big businesses, the Central District may not look like much, but this is area is boiling with creativity and entrepreneurship.  It’s an enormous area with more than 100 000 square metres of unused office space, an emptiness that used to be the reason for a lifeless neighborhood without shops, cafés, businesses or people. But now the city of Rotterdam has seen the Central District’s potential and they’re taking on the challenge of making this area a vibrant part of the city.

One of the actions that the city of Rotterdam is taking is “I make Rotterdam” which is a project from the IABR and the architects ZUS. The main goal is to create a sustainable, new, local economy and bring back the virility to this area.  One example of this project is the yellow pedestrian bridge, Luchtsingel, which tries to connect this area to the rest of the city. 

Walking around the streets of the Central District,  you see creativity everywhere. On the left, there are youngsters taking part in a hip hop class and further on you will find Grid 17: the newest hot spot for creative entrepreneurs.

The empty offices may give this area an eerie feeling, but it also attracts youngcreative minds from all over the Netherlands. An example of finding new functions for old, empty buildings is the big white building called the “Schieblock”. As many as 80 small companies reside there and you can find all kinds of creativity such as a green roof, architects and journalists.


What’s more is that this new atmosphere of life and creativity doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Having some of the most famous dance clubs in the Netherlands, this area lives on until the early hours. Hollywood Music Hall is a prominent phenomenon on the Dutch dance scene with more than thousands of visitors every week, making it the biggest club in Rotterdam. The Hollywood Music Hall has received several prizes for being the best club, and they don’t just focus on one particular style. Whatever you’re in the mood for, whether it’s house, electro, R&B, hiphop or hardstyle : you can find it here.


So don’t judge a book by its cover. A backwater could have more potential than you think. And as in the case of Rotterdam, you may even find yourself stepping into the very core of creativity, business and entrepreneurship.