Anniversary: 70 years Lijnbaan Rotterdam

6 April 2023

70 years ago, the world’s most modern shopping center was opened: the Lijnbaan. As the world’s first car-free shopping promenade, the project is garnering international acclaim. Johannes van den Broek and Jaap Bakema designed this fine example of reconstruction architecture. We take a look in the archives to celebrate this anniversary.

After the devastating bombing in May 1940 and the war years that followed, the reconstruction of Rotterdam got underway. A turbulent period full of activity. In 1951, the shopkeepers’ association commissioned the design of 65 stores in the center of Rotterdam. Van den Broek and Bakema took up the challenge and designed a modern shopping area with a low and wide street profile. The long open passage has stores on 2 sides.

One special feature is that the dwellings and office spaces are not placed above the stores, but in separate buildings behind them. The stores are supplied from a shipping street at the rear, which also forms the entrance street to the residential buildings.

The characteristic simple and systematic style of Van den Broek and Bakema can be seen in the design of the concrete skeleton of the stores. The retail spaces are deliberately flexible in their layout so that they are suitable for various types of use. As a rule, a store consists of two layers (above a basement), with three layers of service spaces at the back.

Perhaps it is the simple systematic architecture, the flexible store layouts, or the car-free shopping area, but Lijnbaan’s design is proven future-proof. Meanwhile, (part of) Lijnbaan has been valued as a national monument. And the car-free mall proved a success: all over the world, the Lijnbaan design has been emulated.

Lijnbaan can always be visited, take a look too. Perhaps during the Reconstruction Day? The Opbouwdag is an archetypal Rotterdam event where we celebrate the (re)construction of the city from May 17 to 21, organized for Platform Wederopbouw Rotterdam, read more about the program here.