Out of the ashes of postwar Rotterdam, the Lijnbaan rose as a ‘living room for the city’ – a revolutionary concept inspiring imitations from Warsaw to Stevenage

A decade after the historic centre of Rotterdam was largely destroyed by bombing during the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940, the city set about building a replacement.

The old centre had its faults: narrow streets, alleys and canals that hindered the passage of traffic. The postwar city council seized the opportunity to build a modern centre and straighten the street pattern. The idea was to give Rotterdammers “what they had, but improved and refined”, according to the architect Jo van den Broek, who embodied the optimistic spirit that ruled Rotterdam at the time.

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