Surprisingly relaxed Rotterdam

Architecture, Commercial, Medical, Public Space, Residential, Coolhaven Urban Campus, Rotterdam

Little C

Urban ensemble of 15 residential and commercial buildings at Coolhaven in Rotterdam

Little C celebrates urban, informal living. By formulating several sharp essentials (anchoring, traversing and an informal atmosphere) and by constantly testing the design there, a rare integral project has been realized in the heart of Rotterdam. The clear concept resulted in a fun and smooth process for the whole team. The collaborating parties – with co-creating customer panels and the Daniel den Hoed family house – paid attention to the last details.

From the different (plinth) programs and the family house to the variation in house sizes; from narrow streets to unique loft typologies; from the reuse of cobblestones in public space up to and including the lettering; everything is connected in Little C. The result is a residential area in which urban development, architecture and outdoor space reinforce each other in one story. A new part of the city that immediately feels pleasant, lived-in and timeless, and that connects different parts of the city like a puzzle piece.

Location: center of the city with a view on water and sun

In the past, the G.J. de Jonghweg was an inhospitable and infrastructure-dominated place in Rotterdam. At the same time, the natural conditions of the place are great: in addition to the central location near the center, Erasmus MC and Het Park, the area is located at the waterfront of Coolhaven. In addition, it is ideally oriented to the midday sun.

Spatial concept: village with a metropolitan character

The spatial concept of Little C is a refined urban environment with a high density and small grain, made up of compact building volumes. It forms a nice contrast with a generous green park that is being constructed on the water side. Little C feels like a village with a metropolitan character: a quality for which The Village in New York was an inspiration. Living in the city is celebrated and starts on the ground floor. With publicly accessible squares and streets, a connecting park and a pedestrian bridge, which provides a direct link with the Erasmus MC, the new district brings cohesion and continuity to the city.

Exuberance of green in the outdoor space

The outdoor space is green with a rough no-nonsense language, in which concrete and recycled cobblestones determine the atmosphere. The enormous amount of plants on the ground level – along and on the facades, between the buildings and on the roof terraces form a nice counterpart to the brick and concrete. Once fully grown, the green not only makes people happy, it also attracts bees, insects and birds, with which the plan contributes to nature inclusiveness in the city.

Integral design with love for the people and the city

The plan is an ensemble of 15 different buildings and fits in well with the human scale. On the side of the ‘s-Gravendijkwal, three large buildings form the entrance to the city from the Maastunnel. At the same time they offer protection to an intimate, quiet inner area. Here, smaller tower buildings stand close together, arranged around three green squares. The buildings are carefully placed on the ground: transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces are soft and smooth with natural stone plinths, arcades, canopies and steps.

Architecture characterized by richly detailed facades

The architecture of Little C combines the qualities of the many beautiful brick buildings in the area with a density that is unique for Rotterdam. In this way, the use of materials connects to project in a natural way to its context. The buildings form a family, elaborated in richly detailed masonry, each with its own character. Together, they provide a lively cityscape.

Intelligent design from the outside to the inside

To make the small residential towers feasible, three buildings share an entrance and a lift. Striking walkways connect buildings on each floor. The wide variety of housing types and sizes have been developed together with potential buyers into unique homes and form a representative urban mix. They feel like lofts due to an open layout, exposed concrete and the black windows frames.

Steel reinforces the sturdy character

A special architectural element is the steel of the fences, bridges and emergency stairs on the facades, which give the neighborhood a robust look. Artist / designer Ruud-Jan Kokke was an integral part of the Little C design team, adding an extra layer with his visual language. The fences come in three variants and contribute to a characteristic and strong appearance of the neighborhood.


  • Small scale and permeability of urban fabric
  • Attractive mix of family housing with education and medical programs
  • New public waterfront
  • Renewed connections to the surrounding urban areas
  • Matching the diverse wishes of many different stakeholders on a small site


  • Site: 10 ha (100.000 m2)
  • Program: 350 lofts, 35 short stay appartements, 7000 m2 kanotren en horeca
  • Parking: 250 spaces
  • Waterfront length: 800 m
  • Process: Competition, 1st prize, 2011; Master plan commission
  • Status: under construction
  • Design: CULD ism Inbo en Ruud Jan Kokke
  • Consultants: Waterpas infrastructure engineering, Nieman Raadgevend ingenieurs, Goudstikker de Vries, van Helvoirt Groenprojecten
  • Clients: Era Countour en JP van Eesteren ,TBI
  • Photography: Ossip van Duivenbode, Rene de Wit en Martin Bekker


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