Slow Urbanism

ZOHO (the Zomerhofkwartier) is a neglected business area in Rotterdam’s inner city.

About 10 years ago the area was largely bought by Havensteder with a view to transforming it into a residential area. This transformation was delayed due to the crisis and the changing role of corporations. As a result the area went into decline. In 2013 Havensteder started work with a strategy of slow urbanism. For a period of 10 years the area was given the chance to develop itself as an urban area, a stone throw from the city centre and central station.


Joined forces

STIPO was asked to manage this transformation. Jeroen Laven (STIPO), with Paul Elleswijk (Havensteder) and Jacco Bakker (Municipality of Rotterdam) worked to strengthen the area. And with success: within months the former business area started to follow an upward trend and developed quickly into one of the upcoming areas in Rotterdam.


Formula for success

ZOHO’s success is based on several ingredients:

Havensteder gave security to tenants and investors by giving tenants the space during the period of slow urbanism (10 years) to give shape to ZOHO. Havensteder acted transparently by providing clarity about rents (in line with the market at area level), about their own investment (limited) and about the space that tenants would be given for their use (plenty).

The municipality gave active substance to the role of facilitator (through Jacco Bakker) and was co-investor in the outdoor space strategy.


Network builder

STIPO took the lead to build the community. Building on the area’s qualities, the existing tenants and the interest in the area a tenant profile was made and a strategy created to attract and keep these tenants. A start was made with parties in the area to form a community of parties that feels it is informally co-owner of the area. All parties that settled in the area invested in ZOHO. STIPO then took the initiative to put ZOHO on the map. STIPO initiated events (like Open ZOHO), invited councillors, Minister Blok and an extensive network of (inter)national professionals to the area. ZOHO became one of the projects that form the spearhead of the international Re: Kreators network. Using STIPO strategies (The City at Eye Level, Public Development and Co-Creativity), a structure has been set up to advance the area’s reinforcement, including a less intensive involvement of Stipo.