The current financial crisis has brought the development of the Rotterdam Central District (RCD) to a standstill. What used to be the lively heart of the city has become a run-down office boulevard with a tremendous vacancy rate and an inhospitable ground level dominated by large scale infrastructure. There are ambitious plans for the RCD but realization at this moment seems highly unlikely.

To kick-start redevelopment ZUS initiated twenty-one interventions (like De Dependancem, the Schieblock, de DakAkker and the Fabrique Urbaine) connected with one continuous route: the Luchtsingel. The Luchtsingel is a temporary wooden bridge that will give the area back to pedestrians, connect the scarce cultural developments in the area and reconnect the city centre with the northern districts.
The Luchtsingel will make the area accessible and more inviting. But the Luchtsingel will be more than a piece of infrastructure, it will be a catalyst of city development. It will function as the public backbone for further developments on, besides and under the bridge.

To work within the current economical context, however, new strategies for city development need to be found. Large scale planning is not feasible at the moment. The logical alternative is a collaborative, small scale and incremental approach. The first step in the realization of the bridge was the formation of an alliance of stakeholders in the area. Inhabitants, global corporations, schools, small entrepreneurs, cultural institutions and the municipality were all actively involved in the planning process. Workshops and meetings were organized in order to find common ground and create a strong base for the project.
Secondly ZUS investigated new business models. The construction of the Luchtsingel is partly realized through crowd-funding. Everyone can pay a contribution in exchange for having their name written on a plank. It is an ideal way to pull resources in times of crisis and at the same time create a sense of ownership; strongly rooting the project within society.


ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles]

Elma van Boxel & Kristian Koreman
Since 2001, Rotterdam
Elma van Boxel (1975) and Kristian Koreman (1978) are the founding directors of Bureau ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles], a pro-active office that combines research with interventions in the contemporary urban landscape with productions ranging from urban plans and architecture to installations and campaigns. Within this complex field they operate constantly in between two positions: as co-author and as critic. Van Boxel studied landscape architecture at Larenstein University and Architecture and Urbanism at the Academy in Rotterdam. Koreman studied landscape architecture at Larenstein University and philosophy at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Bureau ZUS is an international team of architects, urban planners, designers, landscape architects and economists. The Central Park at the World Expo in Shanghai and the landscape of the Dutch Pavilion are two of its internationally known projects. In the Netherlands ZUS is involved in the realization of Almere Dune, a large coastal, urban development and the design of the A9 highway junction. Since a few years the office has been focusing on how to make city in times of crisis. This demands new alliances, return models and new design tactics. As a result they transformed a former vacant office block into an urban laboratory and initiated the idea of a 350 meter long air walk through the central district of Rotterdam. Its realization took off through the use of crowd funding. In 2013 the whole project will be realized.