One thing that makes Rotterdam so unique as a Dutch city is the amount of skyscrapers. While most Dutch (and European) cities still have historical inner cities, Rotterdam had to rebuild their inner city after World War II. On May 14th of 1940 most of the city center was destroyed by a Nazi air raid. It left the city without a heart, and it took decades to fill up the gaps the bombing left behind.
Several plans were made for the new city center. The handful of buildings that survived the air raid saw their surroundings completely change by dozens of architectural projects. Some more succesful than others. One of the first projects that was realized was the construction of a brand new shopping district, the Lijnbaan. At the time of opening it was the first purpose-built pedestrian street in Europe and many cities throughout Europe copied the concept.
Because of the high demand for housing and office space the buildings became higher and higher. Rotterdam already was a pioneer, having built the first building that was considered a high-rise or skyscraper in Europe. In 1898 the Witte Huis was built, at that time a revolutionary office building with 10 floors.
In 1938 the office building of the Municipal Energy Company was completed. With 15 floors and a height of 65 meters it was the tallest building of Rotterdam until 1968. It was surpassed by the Medical Faculty of Erasmus University. Five years later the first building was erected that actually resembles the archetypical look of a modern skyscraper. A box-like building with lots of concrete and glass. Since it was built by the oil company Shell in the anti-capitalist early 70’s it was nicknamed ‘the erection of mass capital’.
In the eighties more and more buildings of over a 100 meters were built. The first building that was well received by even the most people sceptical to high rise buildings, was the newly built Delftse Poort. It consists of two slender towers of which the highest is 151 meters tall. The construction of that building is often marked as the start of the Rotterdam renaissance.
Rotterdam nowadays is a city with a true skyline and some impressive skyscrapers. Not on a scale as New York, Dubai or some Chinese cities, but for European standards definitely remarkable. The latest addition to the skyline is the 215 meters tall Zalmhaven Toren. The tallest for now, but who knows for how long? Plans for a 250 meter tall building are already made. In Rotterdam really is the sky the limit.