M4H harbour area transformation in Rotterdam

Description of the practice: 

2002-2030 (brownfield remediation Gasworks location)


The M4H harbour area in the City of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is 80 – 100 years old and the area is still in use. The soil of the brownfield site is heavily polluted by heavy metals (Pb, Zn, Cd) and organic pollutants such as oil, tar and benzene. The soil in the area is mostly paved and covered, a gasholder can be also found on the site. The area has no connection with a natural riverbank. 


  • From harbour to urban innovation district
  • Organic development  (2010-2040), working and living (<2025)
  • Creative make industry, cleantech/food/health (Makers District)
  • Better connections to the city centres of Schiedam and Rotterdam
  • Better liveability (greening)
  • Climateproof and resilient
  • Adapt a holistic view on the subsurface - develop knowledge of the subsurface as a system
  • Bring in the subsurface as early as possible into the urban planning processes 
  • Workshops for students of urban planning faculty at TU Delft (working on subsurface data, lectures from subsurface specialists)

Categories of results of implenting the 4P's by urban planning students: 

  • Connectivity
  • Climate change
  • Efficient use of space
  • Green cities
  • Health and liveability
  • Resource efficiency 
  • Strong and resilient society 
  • Sustainable energy 
  • Sustainable food production 

As a result, one can say that the method of balancing the 4P's is a new approach that is well handled by students (also in Poland and Romania). In Rotterdam, also other projects make use of the method. This method can be helpful to serve new legislation as well by integrating the living environment. Something to keep in mind is that it takes time to get all stakeholders involved. It also takes energy to bridge the gap between different cultures. 

RDM Rotterdam and M4H Rotterdam together formed the Makers District on 23 January 2018. The Makers District is an innovative manufacturing industry focusing on new technologies (e.g. additive manufacturing like 3D printing, robotisation, material science). The district requires business space for small- and medium-sized enterprises as well as shared facilities such as labs, cleanrooms, data centres - all that in a flexible and open environment.