Coalition the Esch

  • Garden City
  • Urban Management

Urban planning is about looking prospectively together. When the municipality of Rotterdam announced in 2019 that it was exploring the possibility of a new shore connection between De Esch and Feyenoord, ECHO decided not to wait for the municipality to finalise its plans but to spring into action immediately. Together with developers, the housing corporation and investors of De Esch, we quickly established the Coalition De Esch collaboration. A group that actively promotes common interests and is committed to the future of De Esch in consultation with the municipality and residents.

Since then, we have been working with all parties involved on an integrated vision/planning in order to safeguard the special identity of De Esch in future developments in the area: a green residential environment in the heart of the city, born from a pioneering vision.

Client: Coalitie De Esch
Year: 2019 – until now
Partner: Achmea Real Estate, Bakkers | Hommen, Stebru, Bluehouse, ERA Contour, MN, Vesteda, Woonstad Rotterdam u0026 Kraaijvanger
Status: In development
Type: Arena vision
Location: Rotterdam
From left to right: Vince de Jong, Bart van Veenendaal, Arne Steeneken,
Jacco Sterkman, Koen de Boo, Edward van Dongen, Kyra Willard & Francien Verbaan

The coalition

ECHO has a leading role within the coalition, both in terms of content with design research and partial studies and in terms of process. Koen de Boo, partner at ECHO, chairs the coalition and is the face to residents and other stakeholders. He has held this role since 2020.
Coalition De Esch is a collaboration between the housing landlords, the owner of the shopping centre and developers. Together, we own 85% of all homes on De Esch. We work together so that we can influence the future of De Esch. We participate in various spatial processes of the municipality, putting our ideas on the table. We engage with the municipality so that we can turn these ideas into real projects.

Essences of The Esch

New nature for the city

Making ecological systems and the water system experienceable again.

Connected but also individuality

Develop a clear structure and focal points where the city will be with places for quiet living within them.

Increase of current natural value

Strengthen and connect existing systems; align with programme and policy government. The river is the grand gesture.

Nature always close to home

Everyone has a view of greenery. All buildings have high-quality green outdoor space as an integral experience (preferably horizontal instead of vertical). New top view is that of a ‘nature reserve’.

Facilities are clustered in centres

Within the Esch a number of concentrated places for facilities.

Green Esch = Green lanen

Everyone access road is at the same time a connecting road for green spaces, connected to the large green areas.

Transition from current use to new forms of mobility/energy

From current situation to more sustainable use with fewer parking spaces.


A collaborative approach to mobility solutions and energy systems for De Esch, including through the introduction of paid parking.

Affordable living

The development targets families of different compositions.

Existing functions remain connected

By regrouping, combining and transforming, the programme offer in the De Esch will be signposted.

The process

As coalition partners, we have worked together to formulate our shared ambitions. These essences in the fields of green, mobility, housing, facilities and energy give the process a solid foundation. During the recurring participation evenings with residents, these ambitions are also regularly discussed. Formulating a rooted and widely supported vision, however, requires a deeper insight into what is going on in the neighbourhood and what needs there are among the residents. We therefore initially sought – and found – connection with the core values process organised by residents themselves. With them, we discussed crucial questions such as: what does De Esch stand for? Which qualities are worth preserving and strengthening? Which ones to be added?
An inspiring process, in which the residents and the coalition really found each other. We will therefore continue to work together and examine how we can give meaning to the neighbourhood core values in practice: in relation to the integration of the proposed riverbank connection, but also in the sense of measures that can strengthen the liveability and diversity of De Esch in the short term.
Want to know what is going on in De Esch? Attend future talks? Visit and you will be fully informed!

Core values The Esch

In the midst of a Corona pandemic, residents of De Esch teamed up with various authorities and market players to search for the core values of De Esch. What really is De Esch?

People in De Esch are proud of the unique qualities the neighbourhood possesses. De Esch is beautifully located along the river Maas, there is plenty of peace and quiet and there are all kinds of special places in the neighbourhood (such as the oldest city park and the nature polder). But there are also challenges. The public space is cluttered and barren, there is a lot of ageing due to a one-sided housing supply and, partly as a result, the number of facilities in the neighbourhood is decreasing.

On the initiative of the Neighbourhood Collective, a value process was launched with the cooperating property owners and the municipality (Area Commission). This process consisted of a photo competition and the Open Ateliers Echt De Esch: six sessions in which we searched for the neighbourhood’s core values with various parties. Five core values followed from the Open Ateliers, describing which elements are of value to preserve, which elements should be strengthened and what is missing in De Esch.

1. The qualities of De Esch are space and tranquillity. Close to nature and close to the city.

The mix of households could be better: more diversity is desirable, especially for families. The basis for local facilities will become stronger by adding new housing. Not in the density of the centre, but balanced with nature, peace and space, because that is why people like to live in the Esch.

2. The (natural) green-blue infrastructure is a great asset. The (natural) green-blue infrastructure is a great asset.

The Eschpolder nature reserve is the pride of the district. Future developments should spare this place and instead strengthen it. A green corridor (between Eschpolder and Kralingse Bos), the Maas banks, the Park Oude Plantage and the allotments are also of great value. Uninterrupted connections with natural green management between these areas strengthen the character of the neighbourhood and provide added value for biodiversity, climate adaptation, heat stress and resident involvement.

3. The Esch is a destination and not a transit area.

The quality of De Esch is its good accessibility to the city centre, surrounding neighbourhoods and the region. A bank connection at De Esch should not be a solution for through car traffic and should not divide the neighbourhood. Within the district, sustainable means of transport have priority. The dominant position of the car in public spaces is out of date and must be changed.

4. There is a need for resident initiative and cohesion.

De Esch has some great facilities such as the House of the Neighbourhood in the Pompgebouw, the public primary school, the health centre, park De Oude Plantage, Hall 4 and numerous sports fields. Activities and programmes by and for residents provide the real connection between people, but require more local involvement. City policies (welfare, sports and recreation, real estate, funding) and a contemporary shopping centre should support this ‘community building’.

5. We do it together!

The Open Ateliers Echt De Esch showed how much the structural conversation with the municipality and institutional parties about the neighbourhood and an integral approach are missed. About both future developments (bank connection, housing compaction, sustainability and a green corridor) and current issues (parking policy, vacancy, pruning and mowing policy, cleaning and waste policy). Doing things together, meeting each other and knowing each other’s cultures creates more involvement, better plans and a better social living situation.

Working session residents


Koen will be happy to tell you about it.