Sunday, 21 September 2014

Rotterdam Coollection 002

Coollection, a portmanteau, is the collection of cool things. I have coined the term one day and it had a geeky sound to it that I am quite fond of. These are blogposts where I share a collection of extraordinary online items related to Rotterdam. The Coollection may include photos, videos, websites, sounds, and anything that register as 'cool' in my book. Now that we know what this is, let's get to the cool stuff.


Bart van Damme is a Rotterdam-based photographer who takes very good pictures. He's been doing this for years so you can find photos of scenes of the Central Station construction etc. He does a lot of urban architecture and landscape shots and they are phenomenal, he also shoots a lot of industrial sites that you wouldn't usually go to. But even when he shoots at places that I do usually go to, his compositions make the regular street corner appear grand and majestic. This picture of the Pleinbioscoop at Museum Park, for example, I walked passed here during the summer many many times, but I never thought it could be captured like a shot out of a Kubrik film. You can look through Van Damme's material online and, if you wish to, buy his prints and books.


Here's a video of a Ferrari F430 racing through Rotterdam's streets during VKV Rotterdam City Racing 2014. I'll admit I have experienced more car racing from video games than from actually watching cars race. So maybe it's just me who feels that the video makes our city looks like a level in a racing game. Anyways game-like or not, this video feels surreal as you watch the Ferrari drive through our city in directions (and speed) that you cannot usually drive in.  I linked a video of people inline skating in the city last time, and it was fast, but this is FAST. And loud. And throbbing.

screenshot from

The Markthal had been in construction in Rotterdam's Blaak for sometime. In a previous blogpost I have briefly used this construction as an example to make a note abot realities.  Now the Markthal itself had become a reality, soon to be officially opened by Queen Máxima on the 1st of October. This arch is a multifunctional building that include appartments, horeca establishments and a large market in the centre. It's also been getting news coverage for having a ceiling that possesses the WORLD'S LARGEST ARTWORK. Created by artist Arno Coenen, the graphic artwork Horn of Plenty can stretch out to cover two football field. In the future they also planned to project 3D animation onto this ceiling. Click on the title above to navigate a 360 degree panorama from the centre of the building and witness the wonder!

In fact, because of its impressive ceiling art, some promotional/journalistic text went as far as calling the Markthal the SISTINE CHAPEL of Rotterdam (which I think is funny because the Markthal is built right next to Rotterdam's actual most historical church, the Laurenskerk). The Markthal had also been referred to as Rotterdam's new food Walhalla. Such is the age of remixed cultural meanings and metaphors.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Nesselande's Light Transmitting Concrete Cubes

We have all heard of concrete jungles, but have you ever imagined a Light-Transmitting-Concrete jungle? What does that even mean?

I read about these Light Transmitting Concrete (LiTraCon), it's a building material combining concrete with optical glass fibres. While maintaining the hardness and weight of concrete, it lets light shine through like traditional asian paper wall. According to the LiTraCon company website, as the optic fibre hardly loses any light through its length, the LiTraCon material is capable of light-transmittance for thickness up to 20 metres. The material catches a unique balance between heavy and light properties and I thought it sounded really exciting. Imagine seeing something lights up through 20 metres thick of concrete! 

And then I found out that the engineering firm Vormtech used this material in 2011 to build street furnitures at a location near the Nesselande beach, to the north-east of Rotterdam. Naturally I had to pay a visit. There were 6 of these LiTraCon cube fixtures along the short Kosboulevard, marking corners of the regular concrete benches. Each of these is a LiTraCon case with light source placed on the inside, and with a fixed metal lid covering the top.

I can see that there is already plenty of regular streetlights in the area, and the way they set up the LiTraCon cubes here is less for illumination and more for decoration. I like the enchanted-runes vibe these cubes give out, it looks like they are inscribed with holy scripture. I like that it's pretty much impossible for external forces to break the lamp inside because they're protected by concrete ( The lamp itself might bust or malfunction though. This was possibly the case with the one cube that was off). But at the end of the day these cubes don't demonstrate my favourite thing about LiTraCon: the way you can cast shadows through it (as sensually presented here).

When I first saw this material do shadows my intuition speaks shadow puppet theatre. Did I mention LiTraCon also allows colours to shine through? It promises all kinds of exciting visual presentation and connection between both sides of a concrete wall.

From what I've read, LiTraCon cannot (yet!) replace good old concrete because it is way more expensive, so we're not going to see entire concrete structures made of this stuff any time soon. But I'll be very happy to see smart applications of materials like this in cities here and there, infusing the concrete jungle with some visual diversity that any so-called jungle should rightfully include.

p.s. originally I wanted to do this blogpost on new technologies and lights, and I was gonn include another location. I tried to visit Daan Roosegaarde's Dune 4.2 interactive installation at Kralingen's De Esch, but the installation was apparently not there any more. I later researched more carefully and found that they removed Dune 4.2 in early 2013. I's been a few years since they set it up (2009) and it makes sense that higher-tech installations don't stay at one location forever.  It's a shame though, I always wanted to see it since it looked hella dope extremely captivating on video.