Rotterdam vue aérienne
An aerial perspective of Rotterdam, at dawn.

Port of Rotterdam was founded a millennial ago and has never stopped to grow, as a link between the Netherlands and the world. Today, it spreads on around 100 square kilometres from the city centre’s historic harbour to borroughs such as Delfshaven, Nieuw-Mathenesse or the reclaimed area of Maasvlakte. In order to maintain the link with the citizens despite its extension, the Port has made considerable efforts. Rotterdam, as the biggest port in Europe, has been investing for many years on educative and collaborative tools to link the City and the Port. Among these tools, its two visitor centers (“EIC” and Futureland) are essential assets. Visits, exhibitions, conferences, festivals, are many ways to enrich Port-City culture. Rotterdam has even hosted an AiVP world conference in 2016.
In 2020, the Port of Rotterdam has launched the construction of a new space dedicated to the port-city culture, right in the city centre –always closer to the citizens.

Port of Rotterdam is an active member of AiVP since 2000.


AIVP A new space is going to open at spring 2021, which will be called the Port Pavilion (Leuvehaven). Located in the city centre, it will be geographically much closer to the citizens.

What gave you the idea of opening another Port Center and what will be the difference with already existing centers or museums?

Port Pavilion Rotterdam
An artist impression of the future Port Pavilion. © Port of Rotterdam.

Ms Eileen Niks, Program Manager, Port of Rotterdam – Port Pavilion will fulfil another need in comparison to the existing venues. The missing link between the city and port (literally up to 42 kilometres) is offered in this new information point. The emphasis here lies on activities to be undertaken in the port. In our vision it takes a physical visit to really explore and get to know the port.

In an interactive manner visitors can compile their ideal getaway through the port, tailored to their preferences. We want to give citizens and tourists a profound overview of port visits and port activities available. Hence Port Pavilion adds insight in leisure port activities as part of to the whole range of explorations that can be engaged in the port city Rotterdam.


First pile of the Pavilion
The first pile of the Port Pavilion. Bert Boer (Director Maritime Museum), Allard Castelein (CEO Port of Rotterdam Authority), Marieke de Werker (Port of Rotterdam Authority). © Port of Rotterdam.

AIVP – Reaching a collective and active Port Center governance is a key for success. For this new port pavilion, it seems there has been a close collaboration with the City of Rotterdam, as the municipality is going to renovate the area, creating the Maritime District linked to the future pavilion. Additionally, another essential actor is the maritime museum, which will open two new workshops in the Port pavilion.

Could you tell us more about the collaboration with these actors, and with other stakeholders which may also be implied?

Ms Eileen Niks, Program Manager, Port of Rotterdam – Off course a close collaboration with relevant and nearby stakeholders is of our most concern. We are pleased we have the opportunity to contribute to the municipal plans to give a major impulse on the quality of the Maritime District area, an important and visual part of the port’s history. In order to realise a relevant setup of the Leuvepaviljoen, we’re proud to share the pavilion with the Maritime Museum.

Their content and program play a significant role in getting relevant target audiences involved. There is an advanced intention to collaborate on operational level with Rotterdam Tourist Information. Their know-how on city marketing combined with Port of Rotterdam’s experience on maritime and port related issues will result in a valuable proposition to the general public.

AIVP – Port Centers often adapt their exhibition concept in order to attract new audience and to introduce new topics. The “Leuvepaviljoen” will combine historical elements and a contemporary structure, and will be located in the Old port area of Rotterdam. This symbolic bridge between different eras is in line with the Port Center concept defended by AIVP.

Could you tell us more about the design and concept of the pavilion’s exhibition?

Ms Eileen Niks, Program Manager, Port of Rotterdam – In regard to the information that will be offered in Port Pavilion, a large part of the attention goes to the wide range of activities that can be undertaken in the port. The content is aimed at enticing visitors and providing them with practical information to visit the port themselves. In addition, we provide a glimpse into the port of today by literally bringing it inside Port Pavilion. In this manner visitors can already get a sneak preview of the port, making them further enthusiastic to pay a physical visit.


Visit Futureland Rotterdam
Open visits are a way for the citizens to really explore their port. © Port of Rotterdam.

AIVP – Open events are a core activity for Port Centers, as they are an opportunity to attract different kinds of people into Port-City culture. However due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is difficult to organize such gatherings. Rotterdam has a tradition of maritime festivals, as the World Port days gathering between 400 000 and 500 000 people, one of the largest in the Netherlands. This festival is uninterrupted since 1976, however we have seen that the 2020 edition will be different.

Could you tell us how it is going to be? And how have you adapted the program to the pandemic?

Ms Eileen Niks, Program Manager, Port of Rotterdam – Covid-19 had an unprecedented impact on this year’s edition of the World Port Days. As a result the nimble team developed an alternative off- and online programme within the boundaries imposed by the pandemic. For educational purposes they managed to bring the port into the classroom.

Besides the disclosure of digital learning materials, guest lectures were given by port professionals in the schools. These were held in the course of time. The kick-off was as usual on the Friday, at the start of the World Port Days. For the general public an online programme was offered.

A range of different insights brought the port into the homes of many port fans. In so called Port Stories a range of key players shared their port experiences on video, posted online and shared via various social media accounts. Also live radio was made by students as well as the local radio station. This extraordinary edition was hosted by a duo of drone robots.