Saturday, 5 April 2014

Crossing Van Brinnenoordbrug

I mostly operate on the north side of the Nieuwe Maas and for all the time I've spent in this great city much of the southern areas remained untrodden by my feet. I thought that's a huge shame and needed to be changed. When I look out from the Kralingse Zoom parking garage  roof I can see this bridge and I figured the city skyline would look pretty swell from that angle. I thought I would stand on the bridge and look at the city, and then walk across and take a look at what's on the other side.

The actual skyline-watching from Van Brinnenoordbrug didn't go as smoothly as I wished. The bridge is a part of the A16 highway and thus functions chiefly as a passing for vehicles. The only possible viewing position for pedestrians is from the bicycle path, and the bridge only has a bicycle path on its eastern side while the city-centre is at its west. When looking at the city from this path, highway cars run between you and the city and they distract your vision. Of course, this visual noise has its own raucous aesthetics and together with the audio traffic noises can put the viewing experience through an unique lens. However, on the bike path there were also bikes and mopeds constantly passing through, and the narrow lane does not allow for a comfortable standing space while the non-car traffic overtake you. Rightly so, too, as these paths were made for travelling and not for some free-standing weirdo urban-observer such as myself. But anyways these conditions had made the spot sub-optimum for seeing the city.

To be fair, there were some interesting sights to the east side of the bridge worthy of anyone's attention, and the bridge is still a cool place to be on. Sights like

water purification plant

office buildings Solaris

IHC Merwede Shipyard
After walking across, I wandered around for a while and decided to check out what it's like under the bridge. This turned out to be the onset of the day's most significant discovery.

These columns. They remind me of ancient temple stone colonnades, but are modern and concrete. Like their ancient counterparts, they serve both functional and symbolic roles. They uphold the Van Brinnenoordbrug, there is that, but in doing so they also uphold one of the busiest highways in the Netherlands. Columns like these are the foundations of a modern culture symbolised by a lot of cars. As we move into a post-modern culture and an information-based economy, the symbolic significance of highways is replaced by the internet, the information superhighway. Cars, in the context of this symbolic shift, are loud and heavy and physical and yesterday-nostalgic. Some might say these are all Rotterdam qualities and are integral to the city's personality. Here you can hear the sound of highway cars feed through a pretty effective acoustic space.

Amazing harbour-themed murals in the style of Delft Blauw, created by Ricardo van Zwol quite recently. Behind them there was a stretch of vegetation. At first I didn't know how to get to them because there was river water between us. I decided to find out how and eventually did. It's an actual island in the middle of the Nieuwe Maas called Eiland van Brinnenoord. I had no idea it was there. It deserves its own blogpost.

These pictures are okay but they don't illustrate the sheer size of the columns and their real immediate physical impact. You have to be here to feel it. Another thing that impressed me was the vast open area between them. Between each row of columns there is significant empty space, paved in the same kind of  red asphalt as they do for bicycle paths.

As they are positioned under a bridge, they should remain reasonably dry and usable even in rainy days. I get excited whenever I see any kind of public open space, and start imagining what they can be used for. These have such potentials. Street football? Skateboarders' meet-up trick-ups? Weekend battle-rap tournaments? Shadow-puppet improv-theatre at night? Anarcho-outsiders book market? Morning Taichi groups? The possibilities are endless. I looked around for clues of what people might do here. After some amateur forensics I found a collection of evidence:

Broken cider bottle


used fireworks


I can use these components to construct a scene of suburban boyz' volatile chillage.  This process is, of course, not the perfect way of seeing the past because these are less reconstructions and more imaginations. To various extents, all studies of the past are like that (consider dinosaurs), but in this case there is a better method of research than looking at leftovers. I can, in theory, stay here until some of these people show up and chat them up. I'm probably not going to do that though. I have a feeling that unfortunately these volatile hangouts might not be my jam. Such forms of social anxiety and the consequent avoidance of certain social situations cause an occasional lack of interpersonal perspective in my urban experience (if not my human experience at large), and I can see how this may come to be an experiential bottleneck. It's something I would eventually need to address.

You know how sometimes you talk about your problems online in a self-absorbed manner, and your fellow internet users remind you that HEY MAN THIS IS NOT YOUR BLOG? 

Well this one IS my blog. 

ps. I looked up the Brinennoordbrug on google and found this. I'm not sure what to say. I mean, urban exploration usually has more serene connotations than jackass-esque antics, and as such should probably entice more thoughtful responses than what I want so say. But dammmmn son UAIR is CRAy cray. Personally I'm not big on the idea of climbing anything but in forgoing the vertical dimension I'm missing out on heights and on far-sights. 

pps. After I've written this post I have since found out that these other guys from JekupaMedia made a POV video of themselves climbing the Van B-brug. It's pretty thrilling to watch. I mean, dammmn sonnnn theze boyz i don't even

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