Saturday, April 23, 2011

Line of sight exploration

Exploration of unspectacular space
The view from one of my favourite Rotterdam places, the Laplace restaurant opposite the Donner bookshop. From here you look down into a chaotic backyard, with trees, cars, benches and a playground. As I was looking into this quiet urban backwater I wondered: How is it down there? And how does this place look from down there? I could not resist this call of the unspectacular and I went to explore.

Foreground - between the silver cars
Down there the place feels quite different than you would expect from up there. The trees are more present and the place feel much greener. And it is tidier and feels less chaotic than one would expect. Also it is quiet, traffic noise does not penetrate here.

Background - under the big tree
It's a miracle that such big trees - poplars - still exist in the city. Otherwise the place is pleasantly bland. Children are playing football in the playground. A man is eating his lunch on a wooden bench. A calming, unplanned and undesigned oasis in urban space.

It's hard to understand - even for myself - why I find such a micro-exploration so satisfying. Claiming this part of urban space for myself? Mapping a place in my city I had never been before? Discovering how different the two endpoints of a line-of-sight feel? Doing something unpredictable, free from commercial consumption pressures?

Maybe it's just like Nick Papadimitriou says: ... for me such things are psychedelic ...

Nick Papadimitriou - Ventures and Adventures in Topography
Between the silver cars - Google street view
Under the big tree - Google street view


  1. Anonymous04 May, 2011

    Interesting how this is also interesting to you.. i remember i always could calm down on this place. there's a magical feeling in there

  2. Lovely. I think I enjoyed reading this as nearly much as you enjoyed being there.