Design Process

The highlighted steps of my design process towards my final design are shown here.

Step 1: Research

1 - History research / Research the area / Frame the assignment

I started the assignment by framing the assignment. What is the present state of the area? What was the state of the area in the past? And what does the client want in the future? The history is described in the tab "History". After that, I framed the assignment. What are the wishes of our client; De Doelen? The main problem now, is that De Doelen wants to be more connected to the Schouwburgplein. They want to be more part of the square, to attract more people to De Doelen. I also researched the area by walking around in the area, and observe what is where, and where you can do what. Just to have the area in mind.


2 - Study pattern theories 'A Pattern Language' by Christopher Alexander.

The book 'A Pattern Language' by Christopher Alexander, is about using patterns in urban design. It talks about behaviour of people related to certain city-situations. At the tab 'Patterns', you can find the patterns I studied. It summarizes the theoretical principle of those certain patterns.


3 - Find references to understand the pattern

I went to some places in The Netherlands, to find reference situations, which are related to a certain pattern. At the tab 'References' the situations are described. It helped me to understand the pattern, and to examine if the pattern could be useful in the future / in my design.


4 - Observe the project area (behaviour, patterns, what does this say about the area?)

I started by observing patterns on the square. I descriped the present state of the square, related to the patterns, at the tab 'Field Research'. After that, I continued observing, but now more focused on behaviour and choices of the pedestrians. At 'Data Research' I will explain the results.


5 - Conclusions of the research

- Present concept is mainly focused on harbour of Rotterdam. Isn't Rotterdam more then only harbour?

- Square is mainly used for pedestrian trafic. Only 29% of the people stay longer then 5 minutes. Could this be longer?

- Green streets and adventure playground won't work in a city-area. High places, Small public squares, Night life, Garden growing wild could be interresting.

- Do something with the roof of De Doelen. There is potential. It could be attractive, because it is a high place. Also It could be one of the few public rooftops of Rotterdam, which is good PR for De Doelen.



Step 2: Translate Research into Concept

Introducing concept; Schouwburgplein; a square of the Rotterdammers

Now the square is mainly used for (pedestrian) trafic. The square is only alive around summertime, when the weather is sunny.

Present design by Adriaan Geuze and West8 is also for Rotterdammers, but mainly focussed on the port of Rotterdam. Is that really Rotterdam? Isn't there more?

So, what is Rotterdam then? These examples are some highlights of the prouds of Rotterdam.

How can we achieve more connection between the square, and the Rotterdammers?


End quote.

Feedback on this concept:

- Why is clear, but How and What are not clear (yet). Focus more on producing idea's. Design by making. Then the how and what can be defined.

- The why is pretty open. What defines a Rotterdammer? What is typical Rotterdams? How can you translate this into shapes/materials/colors?

- Define what you can do with your research outcomes. This could be very valuable for your design.



Step 3: Adjust concept / Interview

Concidering the feedback on the concept presentation, it made me wonder where I should work on. I started by looking critically at my concept.

It had no How and What. So that has to be determined. The Why part is pretty clear, but what defines a Rotterdammer square? How does that look like? If you think about that critically, something cannot be 100% Rotterdams. For instance; if I would design a cube on the square, and I would say that that is Rotterdams, why is that Rotterdams? What specific charasteristics do you see in that design, that it is Rotterdams? That is a bit vague. Still I wanted to know the Rotterdam mentallity. I did that by interviewing someone from the Maritiem Museum.


Interview Bart - Chief Engineer Maritiem Museum

[Interview summarized]

Conclusions Interview:

[Interview conclusions]


Step 4: Sketching / Connecting to research / Preliminary design

Started sketching by thinking about the pattern 'small public squares'. The square feels big and deserted. So if the square would be devided in a few smaller squares, the square will feel more alive. Started with the idea to lift 4 platforms about 70cm up, and connect them to the paths by stairs. It will create a division, and a 'high place' (which people are attracted to, according to the pattern 'high places').


I also wanted to incorporate the rooftop of the Doelen to the square design. It is such a valuable spot in terms of the view for the visitors. Why not make it publicly accessable? A great way to promote De Doelen.

Feedback on last idea was that the shape should make sence. In this sketch, the paths lead to the entrance of De Doelen. The paths create the outline for the platforms. In this case based on De Doelen, but interesting to use in shaping my design.

Thinking about PR, what would be a good PR? I believe it starts at attracting people to the square, and invite them to stay longer. What can be a better invitation then a rooftop-view-experience? The rooftop of the location where you want the people to be; De Doelen.

This is the outcome of observing pedestrian routes. Which routes are used the most?

From the observations, we can see that the corners of the square are hot spots. Also the cinema is a hotspot. We want De Doelen to connect. The Rotterdamse Schouwburg will also be connected. These routes will determine the shape of the paths/division. 


Preliminary design. Explained below.

Preliminary design:

- Small public squares  >  Divide square in several, less big parts. Because of a division, the square(s) will more likely feel alive.

- The square is now mainly used for pedestrian trafic. The lines which they walk right now + the lines I want them to walk (Towards cinema, Schouwburg and de Doelen) will form the route of the paths on the square, which will also form the divisionlines of the small squares.

- High places  >  The small squares will be lifted 70cm up, compared to the pedestrian paths. By lifting the small squares, people will feel attracted to discover what is up on those platforms. Also the pedestrian flow will be more visible/guided, because the path is between the lifted squares. The path is for movement/flow/pedestrian trafic, and the squares are for relaxation/taking a moment to stand still/have a break/etc.

- High places  >  The rooftop above the entrance, will be public. The closest small square and the rooftop will be connected by a staircase-structure. People are attracted to high places, because then they have an overview of their surroundings. Also, if they work for it, by climbing to the top of the roof, they feel more satisfied. By making it public, people can also be more attracted to De Doelen. Then they are allready on their rooftop.

- High places  >  Rotterdam has many tall buildings. But there are not that many rooftops, which are open for public use. By using the rooftop, space can be used as an experience. Experience, which has a higher value then just a “product” to use. Following the Experience Economy theory of Pine and Gillmore, goods become more valuable by providing an experience. Valuable in terms of money, or in this case, in terms of promotion of the Doelen/rooftop-experiences.

- Materials and colors are yet to be determined.



Feedback on Preliminary Design:

- How would you fill in the platforms? How is it designed?

- What materials are you going to use?

- What is there on the rooftop? Or what can they experience there?


Step 5: Final Concept

Final Concept; [title]:

In progress


Step 6: Final Design


Final ground plan

Perennial Ryegrass

High quality, low maintainance intensity

Applied at green parts

Plain sawn Teak wood

High quality outdoor wood

Applied at rooftop/staircase

Lightweight Aggregate

Lightweight, stylish, easy to maintain

Applied at paths

Polyurethane granulate resin

Stylish, anti-slip, durable

Applied at platform-steps

Aluminium (structuring)

Strong, lightweight

Applied under platforms, and under staircase/rooftop platform

Final model at De Doelen