Monday, July 4, 2016

architecture film festival ROTTERDAM

where my husband's family lived through the second world war years when most of the city was blitzed, but has since mushroomed a compendium of progressive architectural second growth. It is only befitting that this regenerated port city featuring an array of distinctive buildings by daring architects now hosts a biennial Architecture Film Festival to draw design and film aficionados from near and far.

For years now, I had been wanting to visit Rotterdam again and attend the film festival- and here I was wandering the city with stories of my father-in-law's youthful adventures unreeling in my mind before sitting comfortably inside the LantarenVenster theatre to watch a series of films from around the world...

The theatre and film festival venue is located near the venerable Hotel New York where I treated myself to dinner after purchasing tickets for the movies I had planned to see. The building for this hotel and its restaurant had been the headquarters of the Holland America Line situated at the end of the Wilhelmina pier, from where some of our Dutch relatives had sailed off to New York on HAL cruise ships in the 1950's.

On display outside the entrance to the LantarenVenster was a possible solution for the most minimal of urban shelter that is basically two linked together sleeping pods. The so- called BOOMHUTTENFEST/SOLID FAMILY is a social design project by Sander Borsje and Tobias Krasenburg, and consists of two plywood sided "icosahedrons" connected with a crawl through only "corridor" and platforms in each unit for mattresses.

Before the showing of SHORTS: ACT UP - Six Examples from All Over the World of People taking Control of their Space, the AFFR programme director Wies Sanders interviewed Jan Schabert, the director of POJANGMACHA, a 13-minute observation piece filmed in South Korea.

A view of the lobby space of the LantarenVenster where other interviews were also conducted with film-makers and architects.

Temporary festival screens were installed in the PAKHUISMEESTEREN, a long disused warehouse built during the war years, and now in the process of being re-purposed into a hotel to be completed later this year. I accidentally wandered into the official opening of construction in an adjoining space when I went to see what was showing on the multiple screens, (but I was not allowed to photograph the celebratory proceedings).

Rotterdam's very own hometown starchitect Rem Koolhaas' DE ROTTERDAM stacked "vertical city" complex looms colossal over the old warehouse Pakhuismeesteren - a strikingly jarring contrast between a world when tea and exotic spices were shipped over from faraway lands (SUMATRA, JAVA, BORNEO as indicated on its rooftop signs) and stored in such warehouses awaiting distribution and consumption to a world where hypermonumental structures of glass and steel can now "warehouse" the consumers themselves ensconced in such technological luxury that was barely dreamt possible just 50 years ago.

I wonder how my parents-in-law would feel about the architectural metamorphosis that has so dramatically transformed their pre-war hometown into one of the most lauded design cities of the 21st century.