De Lijnbaan

Jaap Bakema Study Centre
The Netherlands
Public space

The Lijnbaan opened in 1953, as the main pedestrian street in the new shopping district. It was a highly symbolical project of hope and progress, the epitome of the new reconstructed Rotterdam after the old city centre was completely destroyed during the bombing of Rotterdam by the German Luftwaffe in May 1940. It combined the universalism of the welfare state with the new consumer culture of the post-war decades. Within CIAM circles it became a model for the idea of 'core', or the heart of the city, the 1951 theme of the CIAM congress in Hoddesdon, UK. The project was planned by the firm of Van den Broek en Bakema in close cooperation with the various shop owners and the city department of planning. To accommodate the demands of the individual shop owners a basic typology of shops was developed with a catalogue of different spatial configurations including voids and shop windows. To create a comprehensive streetscape, a rigorous facade system was developed of repetitive, concrete elements together with a continous canopy, with which all individual shops had to comply. Other street elements included kiosks, telephone booths, benches, art pieces and greenery. The highrise slabs of appartments were designed by among others Hugh Maaskant.  

In what way does your proposal contribute to the open society?

For Bakema the Lijnbaan became a key metaphor in his story about the open society. His diagram called 'Friendship model' was an abstraction of the section of the Lijnbaan, with the low rise shopping street in the middle and the high-rise slabs at the edges. The diagram depicts how according to Bakema buildings and people are always interrelated, just as the small and big scale. To design transitional elements between inside and outside, the public and the private and the small and the large is crucial to create the conditions for an open society. 


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