The Broken Heart of Rotterdam

Between 1940 – 1943 Rotterdam was throughly bombed by the nazi army to become the worst damaged city during the WWII. The city looses over 26 000 homes and 6 000 other buildings and receives the name of “stad zonder hart” (dutch for “city without a heart”). In recent years Rotterdam has been praised as “the city of the future” and “world class center of architectural innovation”.

It is fascinating to observe how some places, such as Mostar or Berlin, which were once torn by war, never really recover, while others seem to thrive and find new life from the ashes. But how does a city go from “heartless” to an architectural gem?

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The History of a City is Written in its Slums

Currently around 1 billion people worldwide live in slums. Between the years 2000 and 2010 the number of slum dwellers has increased by six million every year. The prognosis is that this growth will pinnacle around 2050 when over 7 billion people will live in slums, which makes every third person on Earth.

Slums seem to be our future so it might be worth it to take a closer look at the characteristics of these fascinating urban dwellings. In this article I argue that by examining their social and spatial structures, one can read a history of a city, with its past, present and future, hiding in its slums.

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Cities and Memory

One of the most peculiar and mysterious features of a city has to be the way it collects, stores and shares its memories. Memories of big and small events, moments of  personal drama or of national upheaval, someones and everyone’s stories seem to intertwine in the curious fabric we call a city’s identity.

A city’s memory can be its greatest charm. Walls soaked up in love and romance smell of perfume and lure lovers century after century. Memory of power empowers and memory of courage inspires. Other times this memory might be the one poison slowly draining the life out of a city until it remains all but a memory itself. Some city’s strong and glorious past prevent them jealously from having a future while others, heavy under the weight of their history seek for a different tomorrow of forgetfulness and hope, thus risking their identity and purpose. And then there is the third type – the cities with artificially induced memory. Those cities which were built to represent something they are not. They stay frozen in time as in a never ending coma and leave their visitors with a sense of unease and confusion – for even a beautiful lie remains a lie and it is very difficult to built a future upon an unsteady ground.

Studying cities I am studying the ways a past can define a present or how it can forbid it. How something so temporary as a feeling can become something as eternal as a city and how it is the small stories that contribute to the big history of us.

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Ormoya Island : Densely Private

Analysis and proposal for future urban development on the island Ormøya, Oslo Fjord, Norway.

This project aims for re-conception of the urban plan at the island Ormøya.
It focuses on dichotomies such as public/private, relationship between environment and object and object and object. Another issue addressed is the use of very private spaces in the public domain and their need for the society.

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