ZoHo – Rotterdam’s creative district is bound to set new standards for urban living and working

A new creative district where not only existing local businesses and a community of creative professionals, but also a mix in new neighborhood residents can flourish;

The winning project of the ZoHo tender in Rotterdam’s creative district is bound to set new standards for urban living and working. It is designed to be a strong socially inclusive neighborhood.

The design team – ECHO urban design, Orange Architects, More Architecture, Studio Nauta and MoederscheimMoonen Architects – has adopted an integral approach which led to this winning concept with a strong focus on social inclusivity, as well as climate adaptation.

ZoHo is an area adjacent to Rotterdam’s CBD and Agniese district. In the past decade, creative professionals have turned a brownfield into a lively creative district. This low-rise business area with its own identity needs to be transformed into a mixed neighborhood to meet the city’s urgent densification challenges.

Densification with identity preservation

In our winning design we have identified space to accommodate multiple ambitions and withstand long-term development. We have built upon what is already there: a strong community of creative professionals working in studios and workshops. We add new layers to keep this creative population in the area and are able to allocate residential space for a mixed population. We strive to keep social and middle class in the city.

Stacking and intertwining ambitions
We stack three habitats: lab, land(scape) and city. Where a mix in housing (from social to privately owned, from micro-apartments to townhouses where studio and living space is combined) is spread across the levels. The main thought behind the plan is that we don’t just stack different layers, but intertwine layers by adding collective spaces for social cohesion. With the rooftop park as the most visible and defining feature.

Climate adaptation in a sponge city
The elevated moor park makes this design climate adaptive, as the area is prone to flooding after downpours. It is a little sponge city with an underground reservoir and irrigation system for extreme draught in summertime. A unique climate adaptive concept that does not have to be connected to the sewer system.

Social inclusion by configuration
Social inclusion and cohesion is created by a mix in typologies and social housing, work spaces, collective spaces and in the way these are configured. We have reused existing plot sizes and all components can be (re)built separately in time. With this set-up we are able to accommodate the current (creative) entrepreneurs in affordable workspaces during and after the development of the new ZoHo. We have added a shared mobility hub on a large scale with cars, bikes and scooters. Collective spaces that contribute to social cohesion – including the rooftop park, a ‘living room’ and a sports facility can be found within the three habitats and are accessible for all existing and new ZoHo residents, as well as the neighboring Agniese district.


Location: Rotterdam, Nederland Client /
Developer: Leyten & Stebru
Tender coordination: ECHO urban design

Design team: ECHO urban design, Orange Architects, More Architecture, Studio Nauta and MoederscheimMoonen Architects

Partners: Workspot, Kickstad, Groos, Bouwinvest, Next Urban Mobility, New Horizon, Short Stay Citizens, Rebel, Boomvanmourik

Visualizations: VERO Visual

About Damian Holmes 3233 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/