PROJECT: Kop van Zuid

The Kop van Zuid project reprogrammed Rotterdam and connected the north to the south. It was built on old, abandoned port areas around the Binnenhaven, Entrepothaven, Spoorweghaven, Rijnhaven and the Wilhelmina Pier.


  • Kop van Zuid is located on the south bank of the Nieuwe Maas.
  • The harbour industry was the financial backbone of Rotterdam’s economy.
  • The financal crises from 1970-1980 caused the movement of industry and port areas further down the river to the North Sea, where the location was more favourable.
  • The abandoned port areas and the Nieuwe Maas created a large void, dividing the northern and southern parts of Rotterdam city.
  • There was no bridge connecting both sides. The southern part was always known as the weaker side of Rotterdam. The end result was a downward economic spiral.


  • Transform Kop van Zuid into an attractive and vibrant urban location.
  • Redevelop the industrial area that was left vacant on the southern side of the river. Combine both sides as a unified, single C.B.D.
  • Reduce unemployment.
  • Stimulate the economy.
  • Satisfy the demand of a service orientated location.


  • The City council of Rotterdam invested 100 million euro, working together with private investors.
  • Income from ground rents throughout the city.
  • Highly attractive site.
  • Close to the city centre of Rotterdam.
  • The properties were all located close to the riverbank.
  • The brownfields/abandond areas were under public control because they were owned by the port and the port authority was owned itself by the city.


  • The project focused on reestablishing a good connection from the northern to the southern side of Rotterdam.
  • The existing train line was placed in a tunnel to eliminate noise pollution, removing the barrier in the east-west-direction.
  • Co-operation between the public and private sector was based on mutual trust and common goals. The planners looked for a win-win situation that benefited both the public and private sectors.
  • Successful projects built with high quality design, received private investment in the later stages of the project.
    Construction started with apartment buildings and housing blocks. State controlled housing cooperatives acted as pioneers. Privately financed office buildings followed after.
    The unemployed were trained for upcoming work in the new district.


  • In 1986, the ‘Renewal of Rotterdam’ plan was published to the people of Rotterdam.
  • The ‘New Rotterdam’ campaign was set up in 1994.
  • In 1996, the Erasmus bridge was built and represented new urban renewal, providing the whole area with better connections.
  • Many of the buildings were designed by leading architects, such as the World Port Centre by Norman Foster, and the Telecom Headquarters by Renzo Piano.
    A new music theatre improved the cultural diversity at Kop Van Zuid. Two university colleges with 10,000 students were built to broaden the area’s functions.


  • The physical fabric of the city and the economy began to improve, employment was created.
  • It has created a positive image as an exciting place to live and work. Kop Van Zuid’s population figures has grown gradually.
  • The successful redevelopment of Kop van Zuid has had a positive impact on other parts of south Rotterdam.
  • New businesses employed workers from each part of the city, instead of focusing on the south.
  • The Erasmus bridge became the icon of Kop Van Zuid and a landmark for Rotterdam.
  • More public investment and guarantees for private investment was needed than originally planned to make Kop Van Zuid possible and to motivate public investors to build.


Share on Facebook Share on twitter Email


login or sign up to comment...

Project info




1987 - ongoing


Urban transformation of old harbour district


Employment, Identity, Regeneration




Municipality, National Government, Private investors