In 2014, Rotterdam saw a low 30% occupation rate of commercial buildings in its business center. The pedestrians rarely see that on top of their frequent shops are floors after floors of emptiness. High-rise with their darkened glass facade enclose spaces of potential. The vacant spaces speak of an optimism gone cold, or a quiet gestation period before the sprouts.
One of the most controversial high-rise in the center of Rotterdam is the Shellgebouw completed between 1973 and 1976, heavily criticized after its completion, it brought an halt to the densification of Rotterdam center with high-rises. In the 90s, Shell abandoned the brutalist high-rise and moved into a modern building across the street. The tower remained largely empty since then.
Rotterdam Devoid stems from an observation of the city’s vacant center, as an attempt to answer to the situation and to offer a place for discussion about city ownership, gentrification, and other issues related to the use and planning of city buildings. With a collective effort between me, Jaime Levinas, Dimitri Damaskos, we transformed one of the higher empty floor of Shellgebouw for three days into a space filled with installations, sound performances, discussions and new perspectives.