Yesterday was a special day in the young life of Pendrecht, the district under construction beside the Zuiderpark greenbelt. Alderman J. Meertens opened De Zijpe, an intimate shopping centre, with a speech and the bell-ringing ceremony. The centre was, he said, the ‘Pendrecht Lijnbaan’. Almost the entire local population turned out for the festive opening, with loud music, a parade of shop assistants, and flags. Shortly afterwards, alderman Meertens raised the flag on the highest point of the structure containing 693 homes and a further 19 shops, now under construction.
Het Vrĳe Volk, 17 September 1955
Neighbourhood shopping centre
The first part of the new district of Pendrecht, known as Pendrecht I, was designed by two architecture offices: Lucas and Niemeyer from Rijswijk, and L. Sickler and M. P. Schutte from Leiden. They were commissioned by the Onze Woongemeenschap housing association. A total of 872 homes were built in this part of Pendrecht, along with 16 shops, 3 kiosks and 10 garages. The project was tackled effectively. The plan was ratified by the city council at the start of May 1952, the project was tendered in September 1953, and construction started in December 1953. The first residents received the keys to their homes on Oldengarde in November 1954. And the shopping centre, the final piece of the neighbourhood, opened in September 1955.
The shopping centre was intended as a neighbourhood shopping centre. Over time, a big shopping centre would be built at Plein 1953 in the centre of the district. Each of the four segments of Pendrecht had its own row of shops that catered for daily needs: a tobacconist’s, a stationary shop, a shoe repair shop and a pharmacy. Most daily groceries were still delivered to homes by bakers, milkmen and greengrocers. Other neighbourhood shops were located on Herkingenstraat, Sliedrechtstraat and Ossenisseweg.
The first seventeen retailers have opened their doors in Pendrecht. Their client base is still modest, but that will quickly change. Alderman Meertens answered the call to open this shopping court, a ‘local Lijnbaan’ he called it.
After the alderman had given the official sign by uttering the words ‘And let the bells ring...’, shop assistants paraded across the square to display all the wares on sale in ‘De Zijpe’. Mrs Van Dort, one of the shop assistants, encouraged the people of Pendrecht to shop in their own locality.
Het Rotterdamsch Parool, 17 September 1955
The Zijpe shopping centre is very simple in layout. Two rows of shops with homes upstairs overlook a pedestrian area. Up until then, such a pedestrianized space was a rarity, because the Lijnbaan had only just opened. A series of volumes connected by a display window closed off the northern side of the ‘Mini Lijnbaan’. These one-storey volumes feature large glazed fronts. Placed here are two artworks by Koos van Vlijmen, called 'The Builders'. These sculptures, originally made for the temporary shops built in front of the general post office on Coolsingel, were unveiled on Construction Day in 1956.
Although Pendrecht is generally seen as a showpiece of modern urban design in Rotterdam, it is not explicitly modern in terms of architecture. Pitched roofs and traditionally built homes dominate in Pendrecht I. The architecture of the Zijpe shopping centre is also traditional. The design is symmetric, and unlike the real Lijnbaan, homes were built above the shops. Facades were built in brick and pitched roofs were covered in old Dutch roof tiles.
The seventeen ‘firstlings’ in Pendrecht, the retailers who opened a shop there yesterday, are: M. v.d. Haak, fish products; J.C. v.d. Wel, bookshop; A. Schenk, optician; J.A. v.d. Linde, butcher; De Combinatie, milk and dairy produce; A. Salij, fabrics; Coöperatie Rotterdam, groceries, ice and pastries; J.H. Dijker, flowers and plants; J.M.C. Huijsmans, dry cleaning, dyeing and sewing; EMRI, radios and electricity; A.H. Egas, household appliances; Wim de Vos, tobacconist’s; H. Lubbers, barber; J. Eikelenboom, fruit and veg; J. van Dort, pharmacist; J. Schoenmakers, shoe repairs (!) and N.V. Smit coal trader.
Het Rotterdamsch Parool, 17 September 1955
Lucas and Niemeijer
Jan Lucas (1917-2005) and Henk Niemeijer (1917-1970) founded their architecture practice in 1950 and completed huge numbers of homes during the post-war reconstruction period, including the residential blocks on Schiedamseweg in Rotterdam. From the 1960s on they mostly worked on utility buildings and many shopping centres: In den Boogaard in Rijswijk, Mariahoeve in The Hague, Hof van Spaland in Schiedam, and later, as the architecture office Ellerman, Lucas, Van Vugt, the Plazacomplex on Weena and New Babylon in The Hague.
The neighbourhood shopping centres of Pendrecht have disappeared and all shops are now concentrated at Plein 1953, where big supermarkets are also located. The Zijpe shops ran into difficulties as early as the 1980s when many units were left vacant. The shopping centre is still not very lively, but most of the retail spaces are occupied by shops and businesses that do not rely on foot traffic, such as a physiotherapist, a solarium, a number of doctors and an accountancy office.
In 2021 the complex was designated a municipal heritage site with protected status in 2021.